Leicester

Leicester explosion: Three men jailed for murdering five people

Arkan Ali Hawkar Hassan Aram Kurd Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Arkan Ali (left), Hawkar Hassan (centre) and Aram Kurd were found guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit fraud

Three men who murdered five people when they blew up a shop in a £300,000 insurance scam have been jailed for life.

Aram Kurd, Hawkar Hassan and Arkan Ali caused the explosion in Hinckley Road, Leicester, on 25 February, destroying a supermarket and a flat above.

Leicester Crown Court was told they set alight large amounts of petrol in the basement of the Polish store.

A mother and her two sons were among those killed in the "bomb-like" blast.

Kurd, of Hillary Place, Leicester, and Ali, of Drake Close, Oldham, must serve a minimum of 38 years, with Hassan, of Eld Road, Coventry, given a term of 33 years.

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Media captionJose Ragoobeer lost his wife and two teenage sons in the explosion

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Holgate told Kurd, Ali and Hassan they were "exceptionally callous and deceitful".

He said: "It is plain from the way they both behaved in court and outside that they are highly manipulative and cunning individuals.

"The arson attack on this terraced building was exceptionally dangerous and put the lives of neighbours and other members of the public at a high level of risk."

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Mary Ragoobar and two of her sons, Shane and Sean Ragoobeer, were in the flat above and died in the blast

Mary Ragoobar, 46, and sons Shane Ragoobeer, 18, and Sean, 17, lived above the shop and died in the explosion.

Shane's girlfriend Leah Beth Reek, 18, and shop worker Viktorija Ijevleva, 22, were also killed.

Owner of the shop Kurd cried as victim impact statements were read out in court.

Mary's husband Jose Ragoobeer said he and his family "came to England for a better life".

"All of our hopes and dreams for the future have been completely shattered," he said.

"They were all good people and did not deserve for this to happen to them."

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Shane Ragoobeer's girlfriend Leah Reek, 18, who was visiting the family, was also killed

Joanne Reek, Leah's mother, wept as she said the family "feared the worst" when they learned of the explosion and could not get hold of her.

"We knew that something awful had happened as she would always be in contact with us if she was not at home," she said.

"That journey to Hinckley Road, and that night, will haunt us forever."

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Media captionLeah Reek's parents look back on the horror

Natalija Ijevleva, said "something inside of me died" when she learned her daughter Viktorija - who had been looking forward to starting a new job - had been killed.

She said: "I couldn't believe it for a long time and clung to the hope that there had been a mistake."

Ms Ijevleva said learning her daughter was killed because she knew of the plans "is the hardest to bear", and apologised on her daughter's behalf to the families of the other victims.

"No human being deserves to die for so little gain," she said.

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Viktorija Ijevleva's mother said knowing her daughter was part of the plot was "the hardest to bear"

During the trial, jurors heard Ali and Hassan, along with Ms Ijevleva, had been seen travelling to Oldham to get insurance cover for the shop in the days before the explosion.

Hassan was then caught on CCTV buying 26.6 litres of petrol in a drum, which matched a drum found after the blast.

On the day of the explosion, Ali, Hassan and Kurd were seen in Leicester city centre, and in the roads and alleys around the shop.

The jury heard Kurd made a prison confession to a fellow inmate to causing the explosion because he was "hungry for money".

All three men had denied five counts of murder and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Image caption The fire service described the scene at the time as "utter carnage"

Det Ch Insp Michelle Keen, of Leicestershire Police, said: "As senior investigating officer, I've never dealt with a job that caused so much devastation, both to the families who've lost family members and to the wider community.

"The impact of this incident is still clear to see almost a year on, and the families will never recover from their loss."

The CPS said the trio had bought a further 60 litres of petrol which was also in the shop basement at the time of the blast.

Janine Smith, from the CPS, said the men knew the Ragoobeer family were in the flat above and asked the court to consider that they had "intended to kill or cause serious harm" in hatching their plan.

She added: "The loss of these innocent lives for the pursuit of financial gain is a particularly distressing part of this case."

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