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Blaze father had planned to be home


Shehnila Taufiq and her three teenage children died in a fire at their Leicester house

Shehnila Taufiq and her three teenage children died in a fire at their Leicester house


Shehnila Taufiq and her three teenage children died in a fire at their Leicester house

A grieving father whose wife and three children were killed in a suspected arson attack on their home had planned to be with his family on the night of the blaze.

Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, a neurosurgeon based in Ireland, said he believes that it was God's will that he was not killed along with his wife and teenage children.

An 18-year-old, Kemo Anthony Porter, appeared in court charged with murdering the family - Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her daughter Zainab, 19, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamil, 15 - who died in a fire in their Leicester home last Friday.

The consultant, who normally spent three weekends out of four with his family in Leicester, said that he last spoke to his wife of 20 years at 11.10pm the previous night.

"Initially I planned that if I could come one day before so that I could spend an extra day with Jamil. But it was not possible," he said. "God did not want that I should be in the house at that time on that Friday night ... otherwise I could be burned as well. God did not plan it like that." Dr Al Sattar said his family will be buried in Ireland.

Porter, of Browning Street, Leicester, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth at a two-minute hearing in the city's magistrates' court. He was remanded in custody to appear by videolink at the city's Crown Court on Monday.

The four family members had to be formally identified by a dental examination and the cause of death has been given as smoke inhalation. Temporary Detective Superintendent Kate Meynell, senior investigating officer at Leicestershire Police, told the brief inquest hearing that the bodies have not been released.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister, of Leicestershire Police, said there was no suspicion of a racially motivated element to either the house fire or, separately, the fatal stabbing elsewhere in the city of 20-year-old Antoin Akpom.

The senior officer said: "I would like to thank the people of Leicester for their support during this complex investigation. Because legal procedures now apply to prevent any prejudice being caused to any defendant, no further comment will be made on the circumstances of the case."

Porter, who appeared in the dock wearing a plain grey jumper and jogging bottoms, is formally accused of murdering the four family members on Friday September 13. No members of the Taufiq family were present during Porter's appearance.

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