Leeds & West Yorkshire

Dispute 'led to eight deaths in Birkby house fire'

Shahid Mohammed and scene of fire Image copyright West Yorkshire Police/Fire Service
Image caption Shahid Mohammed skipped bail prior to his original trial in 2003 and fled to Pakistan

A bitter dispute led to the deaths of eight members of the same family when their home was set alight with petrol bombs while they slept, a court heard.

Shahid Mohammed is accused of killing five sisters, their mother, uncle and grandmother in Birkby, Huddersfield.

Leeds Crown Court was told he was one of several men involved in starting the fire but had skipped bail prior to a trial in 2003 and fled to Pakistan.

He was detained there in 2015 and extradited back last year.

The Christi family were asleep in their home in Osborne Road when petrol was poured through the letterbox and a petrol bomb put through the window in the early hours of 12 May 2002.

Nafeesa Aziz, 35, and her five young daughters - Tayyaba Batool, three, Rabiah Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, five, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and Najeeba Nawaz, six months, all died.

Nafeesa Aziz's brother, Mohammed Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, also died in the fire and their mother, Zaib-un-Nisa, 54, who jumped from an upstairs window, died a week later in hospital.

Prosecuting Alistair MacDonald QC, said the 37-year-old, of no fixed abode, reacted angrily when his sister, Shahida, became involved in a relationship with a man named Saud, who he did not approve of.

The court heard how Mohammed Ateeq-ur-Rehman, known as Ateeq, had played an "active part" in the maintaining of their relationship, and was probably the target of the attack.

Family 'screaming'

Jurors were told the couple had set up home in Newcastle, but were forced to move towards Surrey after being subjected to repeated animosity as a result of their relationship.

Mr MacDonald described how a trial in 2003 led to the convictions of three men - Shaied Iqbal, Shakiel Shazad and Nazar Hussain - for their roles in the fire, with Iqbal being convicted of murder and the other two of manslaughter.

The prosecutor said: "The defendant was not one of those who stood trial.

"That's because he had jumped his bail during the course of the investigations into the fire, he then made his way to Pakistan before he could be put on trial."

He added: "So it is that, 17 years after this fire and the deaths resulting from it, he faces a jury in an English court."

The court heard how one of the survivors of the fire was woken in the early hours by someone crying "fire".

Jurors were told how, upon entering into the back garden, she could hear the sound of her family members screaming from the upper floors of the home.

Mr Mohammed denies eight counts of murder and a single count of conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life.

The trial continues.

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