Men in court over Leicester explosion

18 October 2018, 17:10 | Updated: 18 October 2018, 19:03

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Three men have denied murdering five people in a shop blast and plotting with one of their alleged victims to make a bogus insurance claim.

Arkan Ali, Hawkar Hassan and Aram Kurd are alleged to have conspired together and with Viktorija Ijevleva to commit fraud during the two months before she was killed when an explosion destroyed a shop and flat in Leicester.

The charge against the three men alleges that they conspired with 22-year-old Ms Ijevleva to make a gain, by dishonestly "pursuing an insurance claim in respect of a fire" at the store in Hinckley Road.

Ms Ijevleva, Mary Ragoobeer, 46, her teenage sons Shane and Sean, and 18-year-old Leah Beth Reek, 18, who was Shane's girlfriend, were all killed in the blast on Sunday February 25.

Ali, 37, Hassan, 32, and Kurd, 34, will face trial after pleading not guilty to five counts of murder and five alternative counts of manslaughter at Leicester Crown Court.

A hearing on Thursday was told the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud covers a period between December 31 last year and February 26.

Ali, of Drake Close, Oldham, Hassan, of no fixed abode, and Kurd, of Hillary Place, Leicester, were accompanied in the dock by three security officers as they spoke only to enter their pleas.

All three defendants appeared in court in person and each of them was assisted by a separate Kurdish interpreter during the proceedings.

High Court judge Mr Justice Holgate remanded all three defendants in custody until the start of their trial on November 13 which is expected to last three weeks.