Birmingham & Black Country

Endris Mohammed jailed for children's smother-murders

Saros and Leanor Endris Image copyright West Midlands Police/PA Wire
Image caption Endris Mohammed carried out the killings during a "sleepover" in the lounge

A man who murdered his two young children by smothering them with a petrol-soaked rag has been sentenced to at least 33 years in jail.

Endris Mohammed, 47, was convicted of killing his son Saros and daughter Leanor Endris, aged eight and six, at their home in Birmingham last October.

He also tried to kill his wife in an attempted gas blast at the house, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

He was also given a 10-year concurrent sentence for her attempted murder.

On Friday, jurors took less than 30 minutes to find Mohammed guilty of the killings of his children and the attempt to murder his wife, Penil Teklehaimanot.

Jurors had heard that after trying to blow up the house by tampering with a gas valve Mohammed, a taxi driver, had started a fire near the front door.

Saros and Leanor died from airway obstruction after suffering chemical burns to their faces, the court was told.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Mohammed was told his children "trusted him implicitly"

On the night they were murdered, Mrs Teklehaimanot was woken by a smoke alarm at their home in Holland Road, Great Barr, but had thought her children were asleep.

But, they had been killed by their father during a "sleepover" downstairs with him, and were found dead at about 03.30 BST on 28 October, 2016.

Passing sentence on Mohammed, Mr Justice Gilbart described the murders as a "terrible criminal enterprise" and told Mohammed: "You have deliberately snuffed out their young lives".

"They trusted you implicitly and were enjoying your company even on the night of their murder," he said. "You repaid their trust in you by killing them."

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Media captionMohammed captured buying petrol on CCTV less than 12 hours before killing his children

CCTV footage showed Mohammed buying a fuel can and three litres of petrol the day before the murders.

Speaking after his conviction, Mrs Teklehaimanot said the pain of losing her children was "indescribable".

"There is no bigger pain in this world than this experience," she said. "I cannot comprehend how anyone could be so cold-hearted."

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Endris Mohammed suffered burns when he set his car on fire

The Uber driver claimed to have a depressive disorder, citing debts and failed hopes for "a good life in England".

He murdered his children after deciding they "would be better off dead", the court heard.

'Worst cases'

He was later found sitting in his car in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, with severe burns, after setting fire to himself.

Police said Mohammed had no history of mental illness and contrary to claims of financial difficulties, his account was not overdrawn and Mrs Teklehaimanot was "bringing good money into the house".

Judge Gilbart accepted Mohammed was suffering a depressive illness but said it fell short of diminished responsibility.

Det Insp Justin Spanner, from West Midlands Police, said "evidence of the pre-planning" made this "one of the worst cases I've dealt with".

Mohammed's defence barrister Timothy Raggatt, said the defendant was a man of "previous good character... who has done something unspeakable".

"He is at a loss to understand it himself," he added.

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