Leeds & West Yorkshire

Birkby fire: Arson murder accused 'was only lookout'

Shahid Mohammed and scene of fire Image copyright West Yorkshire Police/Fire Service
Image caption Shahid Mohammed wept in court as he denied being responsible for eight deaths

A man accused of murdering eight people in a house fire said he was only the lookout for an arson attack and did not know a home was going to be targeted.

Shahid Mohammed is accused of killing five children, their mother, uncle and grandmother in Huddersfield in 2002.

The prosecution alleges Mr Mohammed, 37, carried out the fire attack with other men due to the family dispute.

He denies eight counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life.

Mr Mohammed, of no fixed address, fled to Pakistan in 2003 and was extradited back to the UK sixteen years later, Leeds Crown Court previously heard.

Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald said Mr Mohammed had shed "crocodile tears" in the witness box.

Mr Mohammed said his only role was to "keep a lookout" and he "heard glass smashing" as the petrol bombs were launching into the property.

In a 2003 trial, Shaied Iqbal was convicted of eight counts of murder, while Nazar Hussain and Shakiel Shazad were both found guilty of eight counts of manslaughter in relation to the fire.

Mr Mohammed said he was later told the house had been targeted and he only believed vehicles were going to be petrol bombed.

"There were people inside and it would have been difficult for them but he [Iqbal] didn't seem bothered," he said.

Mr MacDonald said to him: "Remember you had tears in your eyes about this? What do you mean by 'difficult'?"

Mr Mohammed said he fled the UK and went to Pakistan because Iqbal told him he was the prime suspect but could "come back in a couple of weeks because the investigation would be over".

The eight members of the Christi family who died in the fire:

  • Nafeesa Aziz, 35
  • Her five young daughters - Tayyaba Batool, three, Rabiah Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, five, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and Najeeba Nawaz, six months
  • Her brother - Mohammed Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18
  • Their mother, Zaib-un-Nisa, 54

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