Trio handed life sentences for murder of Asfordby teenager and four others

The three men convicted of the murder of Asfordby teenager Leah Reek and four others by causing an explosion which destroyed a Polish supermarket and the apartment above it have today (Friday) been jailed for life.

Friday, 18th January 2019, 1:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:50 pm
The three men convicted of five counts of murder and conspiring to commit insurance fraud following an explosion at a shop and apartment in Leicester, from left, Arkan Ali, Aram Kurd and Hawkar Hassan EMN-190118-115415001

A Leicester Crown Court jury last month found Aram Kurd, Arkan Ali and Hawkar Hassan guilty of carrying out the atrocity in the city in a bid to get an insurance payout of around £300,000.

And this afternoon Mr Justice Holgate delivered the life sentences, ordering Ali and Kurd to serve at least 38 years and Hassan to serve at least 33 years.

The blast killed 18-year-old Leah, her boyfriend Shane Ragoobeer (18), his mother Mary (46) and brother Sean (17), along with Ali’s girlfriend, 22-year-old Viktorija Ijevleva, who was working in the shop at the time and who was implicated in the conspiracy during the trial.

Asfordby teenager Leah Reek (18) and her 18-year-old boyfriend Shane Ragoobeer - both were murdered in an explosion in Leicester along with his mother and brother and a shop worker EMN-190118-103841001

‘Many, many litres of petrol’ was tipped over the basement of the shop and ignited causing a fireball which reduced the property to rubble shortly after 7pm on Sunday February 25 last year.

Passing sentence, the judge told the court, Ali and Hassan: “None of the defendants has shown the slightest bit of remorse for their wicked crimes.

“They were exceptionally callous and deceitful.

“I agree with the prosecution that it is plain beyond doubt that Kurd and Ali were both centrally involved in the planning of these crimes.

“It is plain from the way they both behaved in court and outside that they are highly manipulative and cunning individuals.”

The judge added: “The arson attack on this terraced building was exceptionally dangerous and put the lives of neighbours and other members of the public at a high level of risk.

“The defendants caused an exceptionally high level of harm.”

Kurd (33), of Hillary Place, Braunstone, Leicester, Ali (37), of Drake Close, Oldham, and Hassan (32), of Eld Road, Coventry were all previously found guilty of five counts of murder and conspiring together to commit insurance fraud.

Det Chief Insp Michelle Keen, the senior investigating officer for Leicestershire Police, said: “As an SIO I’ve never dealt with a job that caused so much devastation, both to the families’ who’ve lost family members and to the wider community.

“The impact of this incident is still clear to see almost a year on, and the families will never recover from their loss.

“And all because of the callous actions of these three men who were motivated by money and greed.”

Reflecting on today’s sentencing hearing, she said: “Today marks the end of a long and complex investigation and provides, I hope, some closure to the families whose strength, resolve and dignity throughout the last year has been nothing short of remarkable.

“The lengthy sentences handed down today are reflective of the hideous crimes carried out by the defendants.

“The level of planning carried out prior to the explosion showed they had no regard for human life, and only had one thing in mind – getting their hands on the money from the fraudulent insurance claim.

“While the conviction and sentences can never bring those loved ones back, I hope that it’s of some comfort knowing those responsible are in prison for many, many years to come.”

Throughout the 10-month investigation officers obtained 1,123 statements, carried out 2,583 other enquiries, recovered 2,595 exhibits and conducted 48 interviews of suspects.

Officers also trawled more than 700 hours of CCTV, tracking the movements of the defendants, pulling together the case for the prosecution.