LENGTHY SENTENCES FOR ARSON DEATH PLOT TRIO

LENGTHY SENTENCES FOR ARSON DEATH PLOT TRIO

A BATLEY man has been jailed for 32 years for orchestrating a plot to kill an entire family in a house fire. 

Mohammed Azad (pictured), of Mortimer Avenue in Healey, was convicted of attempted murder after targeting the Heckmondwike home of a woman who left his struggling driving school business. 

The 45-year-old planned the attack but didn’t physically carry it out.

Instead he sent accomplices Vishal Tharpar and Semia Hussain to douse the front door of the property, on Stonedene Court, in petrol before setting it alight. 

Leeds Crown Court heard Azad persuaded the arsonists to carry out the plan by telling them the house would be unoccupied. 

Tharpar, 32, of Brooke Street in Cleckheaton, and Hussain, 26, of Hawthorne Avenue in Batley, were found guilty of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. They were sentenced to nine years and six years in jail respectively. 

The court heard that Azad targeted single mum Riqqat Hussain because she had left his company, A to Z Driving, while he was in extreme financial difficulty and set up her own rival firm.

During the trial, Alistair Macdonald QC, prosecuting, told jurors the fire took hold at the property at around 3.40am on Sunday August 11, 2019. 

Ms Hussain, her 17-year-old son and two daughters, aged 16 and 11, were all inside the house at the time. 

The court heard that Tharpar and Hussain returned to the property on several occasions to make sure the fire took hold. 

“It was a thoroughly determined effort to set this fire,” said Mr Macdonald. 

“Once they were sure that the house was well alight, they made off on foot, leaving the sleeping family in deadly peril.”

Everyone inside the home escaped with their lives, but teenage son Asad suffered a fractured spine and burns to his hand after jumping from an upstairs window at the semi-detached house. 

He was placed on life support as a result of his injuries. 

Mr Macdonald said: “It takes no feat of the imagination to understand just how desperate Asad must have been to avoid the flames and fumes in his bedroom to jump from the top floor window onto the concrete area beneath.” 

He added that although Azad was not present at the address at the time of the incident, he was involved in the planning, obtaining a petrol canister, petrol, rubber gloves and cleaning products in the lead-up to the fire. 

Tharpar and Hussain left Azad’s house in a white Audi A3, travelled to an area close to Stonedene Court, and returned to his house once the fire was lit.

Representing Hussain, Timothy Raggatt told the court she was a “simple girl” who had been manipulated by Azad and “did as she was told”. 

He added that his client had been in Azad’s “thrall for years”.

But the judge rejected his submission and determined it was a revenge attack in which she had taken part. 

Sentencing the trio, Judge Jameson said: “Azad, believing that Riqqat Hussain and her children were at home, sent Vishal Thapar and Semia Hussain to set fire to their house intending that those inside would die.” 

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