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30 October 2013, 18:37
A father of six doused his Birminham home with petrol and set a fatal fire that killed his wife because he feared a daughter's wedding plans would shame his family.
Mohammed Inayat torched the Cateswell Road house in Sparkhill in the early hours of April 17 the day a daughter was booked on a flight to Dubai to marry her police officer lover.
His wife Naika Inayat died after being overcome by thick smoke, whilst three daughters one of whom suffered 45 per cent burns and a family friend were forced to leap from first floor windows as intense flames quickly spread through the semi-detached house.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that Mohammed Inayat had recently learned of his 30-year-old daughter's Middle East relationship and plans to marry and relocate to Dubai.
The 56-year-old responded angrily to the news saying the "love marriage" would dishonour the family and kicked out at the bride-to-be during one row and on another occasion threatened to have her killed.
Unemployed Inayat initially claimed the fire, which broke out at around 5am, was sparked by two robbers who tied him up, placed a gun at his head and demanded cash.
On the eve of his murder trial, though, he admitted pouring petrol across the house, igniting the fuel and self inflicting superficial 'flash burns' to his arms, legs and face in an attempt to portray himself as a victim caught up in the blaze.
He maintained the fire was started out of frustration and anger at his daughter's plans to re-marry and that he hadn't deliberately intended to kill any family members.
However, a jury found him unanimously guilty of murder and arson with intent to endanger life and a judge at Birmingham Crown Court today (Oct 30) jailed him for life. He will serve a minimum of 22 years behind bars.
Senior Investigating Officer, West Midlands Police Detective Chief Inspector Sarb Johal, said: "Mohammed Inayat was angry at his daughter's plans to marry for a second time but his wife Naika was pleased she'd found love and supported the marriage.
"Inayat vented his displeasure at the prospect of his daughter moving to Dubai, claiming it would bring shame on him and made numerous threats. However, none of his family believed these threats would be carried out.
"He set an intense fire that quickly engulfed the house. His wife died from smoke inhalation after becoming trapped in an upstairs bedroom and one daughter suffered very serious burns…we could very easily have been dealing with multiple fatalities.
"There was no evidence supporting Inayat's initial story of being attacked by two robbers and tied up. Officers found a petrol canister in the shed, one that had recently been used, yet there were no petrol appliances or garden equipment in the house.
"Inayat tried claiming he was suffering mental illness and couldn't be held accountable for his actions. However, psychiatrists agreed that wasn't the case and he could have acted with intent to kill or seriously harm."
When police arrived in Cateswell Road they found Mohammed Inayat already outside and a mattress pushed against the house, provided by a neighbour to help cushion the fall of those forced to jump from first floor windows.
An investigation revealed seven separate seats of fire all started using petrol in the hallway, lounge, kitchen, front bedroom and rear bedroom.
Mohammed Inayat was arrested in hospital on April 19 and later charged with murder.
The court heard his 30-year-old daughter was forced into an arranged marriage in Pakistan several years ago which she believed was to secure a UK visa for her spouse but had since divorced.
That split saw their relationship descend from being "best friends to nothing" and when he learned of her second marriage plans he was prepared to go to extreme lengths to scupper her hopes and protect 'family honour'.
Det Chief Insp Johal, added: "When Inayat realised his attempts to persuade health professionals he was mentally ill had failed, he admitted manslaughter and arson but claimed he didn't mean to harm anyone.
"We rejected that offer from his defence and a jury has now deemed he intended to kill his wife and torch the house knowing he was putting other family members' lives in danger. He has rightly been handed a life sentence for what was a callous, devastating attack on his own family."
Speaking after today's hearing, the Inayat family released the following statement:
"We are very pleased with today's sentence and whilst this will not bring back our beloved Naika we hope it sends out a message that abuse of this instance, of any kind, will not be tolerated by good men and women.
"There are many lessons which can be drawn from this, also by public agencies, including the need to be more vigilant to the trauma and distress that exists within our communities.
"Naika has left a hole in our lives which can never be filled. She will always be loved and remembered by all who knew her."