Murder trial told of sister's 'act of revenge'

Anum Khan

Majid Khan

The house in Magdalen Road after the 1997 fire

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

A SISTER plotted a revenge arson attack which killed two children after she was shamed in a family feud, a jury heard yesterday.

Fiaz Munshi denies murdering eight-year-old Anum Khan and her 15-year-old brother Majid, nearly 17 years ago in the house fire in Magdalen Road, East Oxford.

As the Oxford Crown Court trial opened yesterday, jurors heard Munshi was not charged until October last year because a police error meant she was not arrested for nine years after returning to the UK.

The jury was told the Khan’s home was targeted amid a dispute between Munshi, 38, her sister Riaz and the family living there.

Prosecutor Neil Moore said: “It was against that background of hostility this fire was set.”

The Khan family had blamed the sisters and their friends after their son Amjad – who was in a secret relationship with Munshi – was jailed for plotting to deal heroin.

His mother Mehfooz Akhtar had told the Munshi family about the sisters’ lifestyles and they were forced to leave the family home in Freelands Road.

The jurors were told five men were convicted of the murders in 1998 and Riaz Munshi was later convicted of manslaughter.

The court heard the Munshi sisters were both in one of two cars driven to Oxford on the night of the murders in August 1997.

But Mr Moore yesterday said: “Fiaz Munshi, of the two sisters, held the biggest grudge.

“Her relationship (with Amjad) was instrumental in the disagreement with the two families.”

The lawyer also said Munshi was then in a new relationship with the man said to be the main organiser of the attack.

He said: “We submit, on all the evidence, it is simply inconceivable that she was not part of the plan.”

Munshi, of Manley Road in Oldham, returned to the UK from Pakistan in 2004 and another force told Thames Valley Police this.

But Mr Moore said: “In summary, an error, a very important and regrettable error, was made and the information that was given was not processed as it should have been.

“If it had been processed this trial would have inevitably taken place some years earlier.”

Mr Moore told the jury the fire was started after 3am on August 26, 1997 – half an hour after the lights had been switched off so the occupants would be asleep.

He said petrol had been squirted through the letterbox and ignited.

Anum was found dead curled up in her bedroom by the window. Majid, who jumped from a first-floor window to escape, died in hospital later.

Their mother had escaped the blaze and had to be restrained from going back in to save her children. Three of her daughters and grandson Keshan, six, escaped through upstairs windows of the three-bedroom home.

Taking the stand late yesterday, Amjad Khan, now 39, said he had tried to keep his relationship with Munshi a secret, adding: “It is not really acceptable in a Muslim family for a Muslim girl to be going out with a guy without marriage.”

The trial continues.

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