Three men caused a bomb-like explosion to murder five people, including a friend who was involved in a bogus £300,000 insurance claim, because “she knew too much”, a court has heard.
Arkan Ali, Hawkar Hassan and Aram Kurd allegedly doused a shop in “many, many litres of petrol” before causing the blast – something which “did not bother these defendants one bit”.
Leicester Crown Court heard how some in the neighbourhood near the Polish supermarket on Hinckley Road, Leicester, thought a bomb had exploded.
The prosecution said the trio destroyed the shop and the contents to gain an insurance payout of about £300,000, which “boils down to greed”.
The jury also heard that the defendants intentionally “left (Viktorija Ijevleva) to die” in the explosion and fire which was started in the basement of the building.
Opening the case, David Herbert QC told a jury of seven women and five men the defendants intended to maximise the damage to the premises and “would have known” people were in the two-storey flat above.
Ali, 37, Hassan, 33, and Kurd, 34, pleaded not guilty to five counts of murder and five alternative counts of manslaughter at a previous hearing.
They also denied conspiring with 22-year-old Ijevleva to make a gain, by dishonestly pursuing an insurance claim in respect of a fire at the shop.
Ijevleva, Mary Ragoobeer, 46, her teenage sons Shane and Sean, and 18-year-old Leah Beth Reek, 18, who was Shane’s girlfriend, were killed in the blast in February.
One of the Ragoobeer family just escaped from from the blast, which the prosecution described as a “miracle”.
Addressing the jury on Wednesday, Herbert said: “At 7.01pm on the evening of February 25 2018, a massive explosion occurred in the basement of premises here in Leicester.
“So massive that some in the neighbourhood thought it was a bomb that had exploded.
“The explosion and the proceeding fire demolished a building and killed five people in the building – one person who was in the shop and four who were in the flat above enjoying a peaceful night in.”
The jury was shown CCTV footage of the blast from a number of angles.
Herbert said: “Even on camera 50 metres away you can see the explosion and the enormity of what happened.
“It was an explosion, the prosecution say, caused by many, many litres of petrol.
“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.
“The evidence indicates that, had the crime been successful, the insurance payment would have been in the region of £300,000. It boils down to greed.
“It was not an accident, the prosecution say, that the petrol used caused such devastating damage.”
The defendants were each assisted by a separate Kurdish interpreter during the proceedings and sat in the dock flanked by four security officers.
The court was told about the involvement of Ijevleva in the alleged insurance scam.
Herbert said: “One of those who died, Viktorija Ijevleva, had assisted the defendants to obtain insurance.
“The defendants thought she knew too much and decided to leave her to die in the explosion that they created.
“In other words, the devastation that they caused was carried out with the intention to kill.
“It is also clear that they would have known that people would have been in the flat above the shop at the time of the explosion.
“And you may think when you hear all the evidence that that fact did not bother these defendants one bit as they sought to maximise the damage caused to the shop.”
Ali, of Drake Close, Oldham, Hassan, of Eld Road, Coventry, and Kurd, of Hillary Place, Leicester, deny all 11 charges against them.
The trial, listed for six weeks, continues.