Leicester

Leicester explosion: Shopkeeper 'hungry for money'

Aerial view of the flattened building
Image caption The explosion completely destroyed the shop and the flat above

An ex-prisoner told jurors a man accused of blowing up a shop admitted causing the fatal blast because he was "hungry for money".

Five people, including three members of the same family, were killed in the explosion in Leicester in February.

The unnamed witness told Leicester Crown Court he and Aram Kurd also discussed ways to cover up the crime, which was designed to claim insurance.

Shopkeeper Mr Kurd and two other men all deny five charges of murder.

The witness told the court he withdrew his help when he found out how many people were killed.

Image caption Aram Kurd, Hawkar Hassan and Arkan Ali were seen on CCTV at the time of the blast, the court heard

The explosion happened at 19:01 GMT on 25 February in Hinckley Road, destroying the Zabka supermarket on the ground floor and the flat above it.

Mary Ragoobar, her sons Shane and Sean Ragoobeer, Shane's girlfriend Leah Reek and shop worker Viktorija Ijevleva died. Another member of the family and a passerby were seriously injured.

Mr Kurd, 34, of Hillary Place, Leicester, Hawkar Hassan, 33, of no fixed address, and Arkan Ali, 37, of Drake Close, Oldham, are accused of causing the explosion in order to make about £300,000 from insurance.

The prosecution said previously that Mr Ali poured petrol in the basement of the building, which was lit by either him or Mr Kurd, while Mr Hassan acted as the getaway driver.

The court heard from a witness on Thursday who was for a time in prison with Mr Kurd.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Sean Ragoobeer, 17, Mary Ragoobar, 46, and Shane Ragoobeer, 18, were all killed

He claimed Mr Kurd confessed he, along with the two other defendants, set his ailing business alight using petrol and hoped to make it seem like an accident.

Mr Kurd said there would be a bigger payout if people died, the court was told.

According to his former cellmate, Mr Kurd wanted his assistance to "find a lie", a story to avoid suspicion.

Image copyright LOROS
Image caption Shane Ragoobeer's girlfriend Leah Reek, 18, was killed

The court heard the pair regularly discussed what happened and the witness even took notes and drawings in a bid to help.

The witness said he did not expect to get anything for telling the police but did in fact earn a reduced sentence.

Mr Kurd, Mr Hassan and Mr Ali each deny five charges of murder, five charges of manslaughter and a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption The court heard Viktorija Ijevleva, 22, "knew too much" about the plot and was left to die in the fire

The trial continues.

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