I don't hate - fire deaths father
The husband of a woman and three children who died in an arson attack on their home has said he has no hatred for the eight men convicted over their deaths today.
Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar said: "You hate crime. You don't hate individual people" over the convictions for the attack on his family's home in Leicester last September.
A trial at Nottingham Crown Court heard the family died after their killers, bent on revenge, attacked the wrong house.
Shehnila Taufiq, 47, their 19-year-old daughter Zainab, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal, 15, all died when fire engulfed their home in Wood Hill in the early hours of September 13.
Today two men Kemo Porter, 19, and Tristan Richards, 22, were found guilty of their murders at Nottingham Crown Court following a two-month trial.
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 found guilty of manslaughter.
Prosecutors said the fire was "retribution" for the fatal stabbing of their friend Antoin Akpom, 20, hours earlier but that the killers mistakenly attacked the wrong house.
Speaking after the verdicts at a press conference today, Dr Taufiq paid tribute to his family, calling them "four amazing human beings".
An emotional Dr Taufiq said they were an "extraordinary" and "charitable" family who dedicated their lives to "the needy and less privileged".
He said: "My beloved wife and three beautiful children I can say they were really extraordinary people. They were very charitable. They had a strong concern for the welfare of others even before their own comfort. They had devoted their lives to a dream to give to others, the needy, the less privileged and the misguided. Four amazing human beings. "
Dr Taufiq added: "The ultimate goal of these four amazing people was to live and work together with a primary aim to serve community and humanity."
During the trial, the court heard that football coach Akpom had been stabbed in the back in a "confrontation'" involving two 19-year-olds at around 5.30pm on September 12, less than a mile away in Kent Street. He was pronounced dead in hospital at 7pm.
Hussain Hussain, 19, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years for Mr Akpom's murder following a trial at Stafford Crown Court earlier this year.
The jury at Nottingham Crown Court was told that the mother of the second 19-year-old involved in the "confrontation" lived two doors down from the arson attack on the Taufiq family home.
Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, said the eight defendants were friends of Mr Akpom and that hours after the fatal stabbing they mistakenly targeted the Taufiqs' house believing it to be the home of one of the 19-year-olds.
The prosecutor said: ''They simply got the wrong house - a tragedy.''
The court heard the blaze was set around 12.30am on September 13, with petrol poured through the letterbox and ignited.
Mrs Taufiq and her three children were left trapped upstairs in their home as the flames took hold at the bottom of the stairs.
Mr Taufiq, who sat throughout the two-month trial at Nottingham Crown Court, had spoken to his family just an hour before the blaze broke out, the court heard.
As the manslaugther verdict on 17-year-old Parker was read out today there were tears from the public gallery and cries of 'he's only a baby!'.
The judge Mr Justice John Griffith Williams lifted restrictions on naming Parker following representations from the media.
Porter, of Browning Street, Leicester; Richards, of Sparkenhoe Street, Leicester; Mullings, of Farringdon Street, Northfield, Leicester; Carter, of Franche Road, Leicester; Powell, of Burnside Road, Leicester; Webb, of Saltersford Road, Leicester; Jeffers, of Carr Mills, Buslingthorpe, Leeds and Parker, from Leicester, were all remanded in custody.
The judge said he would hear mitigation tomorrow and then the eight would be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday morning.
Speaking after the verdicts, Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister, from Leicestershire Police, said: "I would like to pay tribute to Dr Taufiq who has been central and a really important part of our investigation in terms of ongoing support.
"Dr Taufiq has attended court throughout the trial and shown what I think is amazing strength at what has understandably been some very difficult times. He has lost his entire family in the most tragic of circumstances and has had to hear some very disturbing details of their final moments.
"It is difficult to understand how someone could cope with this but Dr Taufiq has done so with the greatest amount of dignity and courage.
"My hope is that he can begin to move on from this devastating tragedy and continue to draw the immense strength from his religion to be the inspiring man I believe he is."
He also thanked the local community of Leicester for their "patience, support and advice".
He said: "The events of Friday September 13 deeply affected not just the close-knit community that Shehnila and her children were part of and so well respected in but also the wider community.
"Leicester itself is a city really richly proud of its diverse and rich culture and I have seen at first hand how everyone pulled together and united to support Dr Taufiq but each other as well."