Man found guilty of murder and arson in Maidenhead

07/02/2011

A man has been found guilty of murder and arson with intent to endanger life, following the death of a 23-year-old woman in a house fire in Maidenhead in June last year.

Amaar Najib (20), of Wexham Road, Slough, was convicted by jury on 4 February at Reading Crown Court. His co-defendants, Navera Ahmed (18), and Kanwarpal Singh (18), both of Rochford Gardens, Slough, were acquitted of all charges; Ahmed on 3 February and Singh today, 7 February, after the jury had deliberated for some 26 hours during the five-week trial, which began on 4 January. 

Saimah Ali (23) died following a house fire in Moor Lane, Maidenhead, during the early hours of Friday 25 June 2010. Mrs Ali was staying at the house with other family members. She dialled 999 at 12.37am to alert emergency services to the fire. Fifteen other people, including seven adults and eight children who were staying overnight after a family gathering the previous evening, managed to escape the blaze by climbing out of windows onto an extension roof, while others were assisted down a ladder. One man sustained a broken ankle after falling from the building and others were treated for smoke inhalation.

Sadly, Mrs Ali was unable to escape and her body was later found in the attic area. A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as inhalation of smoke and fumes of combustion.

CPS case lawyer, Luke Bulpitt, said: 'This was a senseless act with tragic consequences, leaving a young woman dead and a family devastated.  The meticulous investigation by the police and rigorous prosecution by the CPS means that the person responsible, Amaar Najib, has been brought before the courts and been found guilty by a jury of murder and arson with intent to endanger life. 

'Two further defendants, Kanwarpal Singh and Navera Ahmed, were also brought before the courts; however, the jury has acquitted them, having heard all the evidence. We must respect the decision of the court.' 

The semi-detached house in Moor Lane was so badly damaged that fire-fighters feared the roof would collapse. During the following hours it became apparent that the cause of the fire was suspicious and a murder investigation was launched.

Detectives found evidence that the defendants had bought petrol from a petrol station in Bath Road, Taplow, about 20 minutes before the fire. They also found traces of petrol in carpet retrieved from the house in Moor Lane. It is believed that the petrol was used to set fire to the front door of the property. Other evidence showed a black BMW used in the crime in the vicinity of Moor Lane and on its journey to and from Maidenhead.

Najib, described by some witnesses as suffering from facial injuries including burns, was arrested at Birmingham International Airport on 30 June, after buying a one-way ticket to Pakistan. He appeared at Slough Magistrates' Court on 1 July, charged with murder and arson with intent to endanger life.  He will be sentenced at Reading Crown Court on 21 February.

The motive for the fire remains unclear.