Leeds man in court to deny murder over blaze deaths

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A LEEDS man accused of setting a deadly fire which killed a mother and her three children has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of murder.

Akeem Jeffers, 21, of Buslingthorpe Lane, Sheepscar, was one of five defendants who appeared at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday charged over the fatal blaze in Leicester last year.

Jeffers, Tristan Richards, 22, Shaun Carter, 24, Jackson Powell, 20, and a 17-year-old youth all entered pleas after hearing the allegations against them.

All five are each charged with the murders of Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her daughter Zainab, 19, and teenage sons Bilal, 17, and Jamil, 15, in a deadly blaze they allegedly set at the family’s home in Wood Hill on September 13, last year. The men and the youth will now be tried at Nottingham Crown Court in a trial set to start on April 22 and lasting at least six weeks.

The five appeared in the dock in a courtroom packed with friends and family alongside two other defendants who are separately accused of stabbing to death a 20-year-old football coach in Leicester the night prior to the fire, in a case police say they are linking to the arson.

Hussain Hussain, of no fixed address, and Abdul Hakim, of Wood Hill, Spinney Hills, Leicester, both 19, each deny murdering Antoin Akpom on September 12. Their trial is scheduled to last three weeks at Stafford Crown Court on April 1. Mr Akpom’s family were present throughout the hearing.

Jeffers, Richards, of Sparkenhoe Street, Leicester; Carter, of Franche Road, Leicester; Powell, of Burnside Road, Leicester, and the youth all listened intently throughout the proceedings, speaking only to confirm their names and enter pleas.

Three men also jointly facing the same four counts of murder in relation to the arson attack were not produced at court after an administrative error.

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