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Three men jailed for life after five died in Leicester shop explosion

Sky News logo Sky News 18/01/2019 Becky Johnson, news correspondent
Arum Kurd, Arkan Ali and Hakar Hassan were found guilty of murder © Sky News Arum Kurd, Arkan Ali and Hakar Hassan were found guilty of murder

Three men have been jailed for life after they deliberately set fire to a shop in Leicester, causing an explosion that killed five people.

Shopkeeper Aram Kurd, 34, and his friends Arkan Ali, 37, and Hawkar Hassan, 33, plotted to destroy the Polish supermarket in order to claim £300,000 in insurance because the business was failing.

They were found guilty of murder in December. Kurd and Ali have been sentenced to at least 37 years, while Hassan will serve more than 32 years.

Ali's girlfriend, Viktorija Ijevleva, who worked in the shop, was left to die in the blaze because she had been in on the plot and "knew too much".  The blast destroyed the shop in Leicester in February © Sky The blast destroyed the shop in Leicester in February

Ms Ijevleva and Mary Ragoobeer, 46, her teenage sons Shane and Sean, and 18-year-old Leah Beth Reek, who was Shane's girlfriend, were all killed in the blast in February 2018.

Family members wept in the public gallery as Leah's mother Joanne told the court: "The light went out of our world on that terrible night. No parent should have to plan a funeral for their child.

"I've not yet had a day when I haven't cried. We don't laugh as much or enjoy things in the same way. We have a Leah shaped hole in our hearts."

Sean Rajoobeer, 17, (left) Shane Rajoobeer,18, and and their mother Mary were killed © Sky Sean Rajoobeer, 17, (left) Shane Rajoobeer,18, and and their mother Mary were killed

The Ragoobeer family lived in the flat above the shop which was completely destroyed.

Mrs Ragoobeer's husband Jose was out at work at the time of the explosion.

Their third son, Scotty, survived after he was rescued from the rubble. Mr Ragoobeer says the loss of his wife and two sons has left him shattered.

He said: I've got hate in my heart for the first time as what they've done is incredible. "And they are without any emotion. It's very hard to be in court to sit and see them.

"I feel angry because since me and my wife came to England we've been doing two jobs all the time for our kids. And they wanted to make easy money. It's why I hate what they have done."

Victim Leah Beth Reek was 18 © Sky Victim Leah Beth Reek was 18

Prosecutor David Herbert QC told the trial that Kurd, Ali and Hassan intended to maximise the damage to the premises and "would have known" people would have been in the two-storey flat above.

The day before the explosion, Hassan was seen on CCTV buying 26 litres of petrol.

The container he put it in was recovered from the wreckage after the fire.

On the night of the blast, Ali doused the basement of the building with petrol before running to be collected in the getaway car, driven by Hassan.

Kurd remained in the shop, emerging soon after the blast feigning shock and concern for the victims.

In the hours afterwards he did a series of television interviews pretending to be worried about people trapped inside the building.

"This was a really callous act borne out of greed and financial gain and showed a real disregard for human life," Detective chief inspector Michelle Keen from Leicestershire Police told Sky News.

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