3 men found guilty for Leicester blast

Aram Kurd, Hawkar Hassan and Arkan Ali planned an insurance scam for £300,000 that killed 5 people.

Aram Kurd, Hawkar Hassan and Arkan Ali

Three men have been found guilty of murdering, including a mother and her two sons, in an explosion at a shop.

The blast destroyed a supermarket and the flat above where a family lived on Hinckley Road, Leicester, in February.

The men caused the explosion in order to make about £300,000 in an insurance scam, a jury at Leicester Crown Court heard.

Aram Kurd, Hawkar Hassan and Arkan Ali had denied five counts of murder in addition to conspiracy to commit fraud.

The killers had lit 26 litres of petrol in the basement of the Polish shop Zabka, Leicestershire Police said.

Shane Ragoobeer, 18, his 17-year-old brother Sean, Shane’s girlfriend Leah Beth Reek, 18, and the brothers’ mother, Mary Ragoobar, 46, were in the flat when the explosion occurred at about 7pm on 25 February.

In a statement read out following the verdicts, Jose Ragoobeer said he and his family’s lives would “never be the same” and his wife of 22 years was “our rock”.

Mr Ragoobeer said: “Not a day goes by when we don’t think about Mary, Shane and Sean.”

Molly Reek said of her sister Leah: “She was an amazing, inspirational young lady who was just starting out in her life adventure. Leah made a lasting impression on everyone who was lucky enough to know her.”

Viktorija Ijevleva, 22, was working in the shop at the time of the blast and was also killed.

The five-week trial was told the defendants left Ms Ijevleva to die because she was aware of the insurance policy taken out less than three weeks earlier.

The investigation led police to trawl through more than 700 hours of CCTV footage, and examine more than 2,500 exhibits, 1,000 witness statements and 4,000 different lines of inquiry.

Footage examined by officers showed cameras being moved in the days before the explosion, and people escaping from a nearby takeaway moments after the blast, with rubble landing on the road as cars passed by.

During the trial, jurors heard how Scotty Ragoobeer, who was 15 at the time, survived because he was dug out of the rubble by police and members of the public just before the blast site was engulfed by flames.

Prosecutor David Herbert QC told jurors: “The explosion and the fire that followed was deliberately caused by these defendants who intended to profit from loss of stock, contents and future loss of business from the shop.”

Ali, 38, of Drake Close in Oldham; 33-year-old Hassan, of Eld Road in Coventry; and Kurd, 34, of Hillary Place in Leicester, are due to be sentenced on 18 January.

The jury took just over 11 hours to find them guilty on all counts.

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