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#Dignity: Father of Leicester House fire victims calls on killers to repent

Eight men have been jailed for a total of 134 years for a botched arson attack that killed four members of the same British-Pakistani family in Leicester last September.

The gang’s 22-year-old leader Tristan Richards was convicted of murder at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday following a two-month trial and given a minimum life term of 35 years whilst his 19-year-old accomplice Kemo Porter was jailed for a minimum 25-year term.

The other six members – ranging from age 17 to 24 – were convicted of manslaughter received lesser sentences.

The men were found guilty of the killings of Shehnila Taufiq, 47 and her children Zainab, 19, Bilal, 17 and 15-year-old Jamal. 

The family home in Wood Hill, Leicester – home to a large South Asian immigrant community – was targeted in the early hours September 13.

The gang had mistaken the house as belonging to a man who had stabbed an accomplice earlier in the day.

Prosecutors told the court that Richards and his cohorts had been looking for “retribution” throughout the day.

Speaking after the sentencing, the victim’s husband and father, Dr Taufiq Al Sattar – a Dublin-based neurosurgeon who had been scheduled to return home the day after the blaze – called on the killers to repent.

An emotional Dr Sattar – who was widely praised after calling for calm in his community and forgiveness for the killers in the days after the attack – told a news conference that it was important for the men to clear their conscience.

“I trained my children from a young age to raise their hands when they make a mistake.  Admit to it.  These people have lied and lied from the beginning to the very end.  God knows what they did.  But they need to clear their guilt from their hearts. 

“They have this guilt conscience for the rest of their lives.  It will torture them all the time.  This should not happen. We should be brave enough to admit to our mistakes.  Okay you will be punished but at least your conscience will be clear.”

Sentencing the men, the judge described the attack as “premeditated”.

The court heard that Richards had gone to the house with a can of patrol which was put through the letterbox before Porter sparked the fire.

“The horror of what then happened is all too apparent”,  the judge said.

“The quantity of petrol and the pouring of petrol through the letterbox provide the evidence the plan was that the house was to be consumed by fire, which took hold instantly and spread upstairs.  There was, and could not have been, any escape from that ferocious fire”.

During the trial, the court also heard that football coach Antoin Akpom, 20, had been stabbed in the back in a ‘confrontation’’ involving two 19-year-olds on the afternoon of 12 September, on Kent Street, a mile away from the al-Sattar residence.

Akpom was pronounced dead in hospital the same night, sparking the gang members into action. 

The trial against the eight defendants at Nottingham Crown Court heard they had intended to target the house of another man who they believed had been involved in the confrontation.

But they got the wrong house.

The jury heard Dr Al Sattar, who had sat in court throughout the trial, had spoken to his family just an hour before the fire broke out. 

The judge today praised Dr Taufiq saying his dignified presence throughout the trial had been ‘remarkable’.

“He told in the most moving of terms his loss, its effect upon him and his dedication to complete, in their memory, the family goal of setting up a community centre in Dublin”, the judge said.

“He too is a victim of what he described as a ‘heartless, malicious act’”, he added.

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