UK & World News

  • 22 November 2012, 11:46

House Fire: Murder Probe Into Family Deaths

A house fire that killed a mother and her five children in Essex last month is now being treated as a murder investigation.

Sabah Usmani, a 44-year-old doctor, and the children died after a fire at their home in Barn Mead, Harlow, in the early hours of October 15.

Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson, said: "This is now a murder investigation. We believe that someone burgled the house and then caused a fire that took the lives of six innocent people.

"Someone knows something about this incident and for whatever reason has not come forward to tell police what they saw or know.

"Please search your conscience for the sake of those five young children and their mother."

Sabah's husband, Abdul Shakoor, a doctor, tried unsuccessfully to save his family from the blaze.

His daughter Hira, 12, and sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayyan, six, died at the scene.

His son Muneeb, nine, and daughter Maheen, three, were taken to hospital in a critical condition and later died.

At the same time as fire crews were tackling the blaze, a Ford Focus car was alight in a parking area nearby.

Mr Vinson said: "The car that was discovered alight on the same morning belonged to a neighbour and was parked around 20 metres away from the Shakoor home. Do you have any information about this car fire?

"I need the public's help and appeal for information about people who were in the area and about items taken in the burglary," he added.

Dr Shakoor's laptop bag which contained a two-pin lead was originally found in a hedge along the footpath between St Michael's Close and Whitewaits by two teenagers and then abandoned in Whitewaits by some garages.

Police want to know how the laptop bag came to be abandoned in the hedge. They also want to hear from anyone who has been offered a Toshiba Satellite, the make of a family laptop that is still missing.

Mr Vinson said: "We need to find a group of four young men, 16-19, possibly wearing tracksuits and baseball hats, one significantly taller than the others.

"Additionally we need to speak to two teenagers on bikes. Anyone who was in the area at the time of the fire or has any information about who was there must contact us."

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Operation Shakespeare investigation team on 01277 266869 or 0800 056 0944 or via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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