Leicester fire deaths: Man denies knowledge of blaze attack

Jackson Powell drawing
Image caption Jackson Powell told the court he lied because he was frightened of one of his co-defendants

A man accused of murdering four members of a family in a botched arson attack has denied any involvement.

Jackson Powell, 20, is accused along with six other men and one teenager of the arson attack on a house in Wood Hill, Leicester, on 13 September.

Mr Powell admitted being at the scene, but told the court he had no idea there would be a fire.

Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her daughter Zainab, 19, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal, 15 died in the blaze.

Mr Powell, of Burnside Road, Leicester, told the jury at Nottingham Crown Court co-defendant Tristan Richards, 22, poured petrol over the door and started the fire.

His barrister, Harendra de Silva QC, asked him why he had lied about his movements on the night.

He replied: "I was trying to distance myself from the situation and from what I'd seen.

"Knowing what at least one of my co-defendants was capable of, I didn't want to put myself or my family at risk."

He said Mr Richards had a "big reputation".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Four members of the Taufiq family died in the fire at their home

Earlier in the trial, the court heard Mr Richards had a nickname, DMT, which stood for Drugs, Money, Tools and that he had a tally of all the people he had stabbed.

Mr Richards has denied any part in the attack and said he did not know about the fire until the following morning.

He called claims about the meaning of his nickname as "absolutely ludicrous".

Previously the jury was told the group had meant to target the house of a man they believed had stabbed and killed their friend Antoin Akpom earlier that night.

However, the men got the wrong address.

The other seven defendants accused are:

  • Kemo Porter, 19, Browning Street, Leicester
  • Tristan Richards, 22, of Sparkenhoe Street, Leicester
  • Nathaniel Mullings, 19, of Farringdon Street, Northfield, Leicester
  • Shaun Carter, 24, of Franche Road, Leicester
  • Aaron Webb, 20, Saltersford Road, Leicester
  • Akeem Jeffers, 21, of Carr Mills, Buslingthorpe, Leeds
  • A 17-year-old youth, from Leicester, who cannot be named for legal reasons

All eight deny murder. The trial continues.

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