A DOCTOR’S family died after a gang bent on revenge set fire to the wrong house in a “misguided and impulsive” attack following the death of their friend.
Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her 19-year-old daughter Zainab, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal, 15, all died when the petrol-fuelled flames engulfed their terraced house in Leicester, in the early hours of 13 September last year.
Yesterday, a jury found two men, Kemo Porter, 19, and Tristan Richards, 22, guilty of murder following a two-month trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
Six other defendants: Shaun Carter, 24; Nathaniel Mullings, 19; Jackson Powell, 20; Aaron Webb, 20; Akeem Jeffers, 21; and 17-year-old Cairo Parker were cleared of four counts of murder but convicted of manslaughter.
Leicestershire Police said the family died as a result of the gang attacking the wrong house to avenge the fatal stabbing of their friend, Antoin Akpom, hours earlier.
Temporary Detective Superintendent Kate Meynell, senior investigating officer, said: “Emotions were running high. Their actions on that night, in my opinion, were both misguided and impulsive, and obviously had tragic consequences.”
She added: “These men sought to avenge the death of their friend, Antoin Akpom. They went to the address to try and avenge the attack and tragically they got the wrong address and it resulted in the death of the Taufiq family.”
She said the investigation had been difficult due to the stabbing of Mr Akpom taking place just hours before the fire.
Ms Meynell said: “In the first instance, the fact that four people have been killed is significant. Just trying to deal with the impact that has on the community and the individuals involved is a challenge. But what is even more difficult was that some seven hours before, there had been another murder.
“When we started the investigation, we kept both incidents separate because we didn’t want to lose any lines of inquiry, but after a while it became apparent to us that the two were linked.”
She said CCTV evidence was an important part of their investigation along with forensics, witness accounts and house-to-house inquiries.
However, their main inquiries centred around identifying the vehicles used by the defendants on the night of the fire.
She said: “With the investigation into the fire, it was clear to us quite early on that two vehicles were involved.
“Our main inquiries were around identifying those vehicles, then identifying the movements of those vehicles on the night of Thursday 12 September through to the early hours of Friday 13 September, and also after the incident.
“Then we linked into that the people we believed were linked to those cars and who we believed were present at the scene at the time of the fire.”
Following the deaths, the local community rallied around the families of the victims, despite tensions being high.
The Taufiq family had moved to Leicester from Dublin to study theology. Their husband and father, Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, a paediatric neurosurgeon, was working at a hospital in Dublin at the time.
Ms Meynell added: “I think as part of the investigation team, we’re always aware of the impact that these incidents have on the community and on the families.
“I think it’s a great credit to the communities in Leicester that everyone came together. I can only begin to imagine the impact that it has had on people that knew the Taufiq family or knew Antoin, but everyone did come together.”
All eight defendants will be sentenced tomorrow.