Man jailed for life for murder and arson at house in Maidenhead

21/02/2011

A man has been jailed for life for murder and arson with intent to endanger life, following the death of a woman in a house fire in Maidenhead in June last year.

A man has been jailed for life for murder and arson with intent to endanger life, following the death of a woman in a house fire in Maidenhead in June last year.

Amaar Najib (20), of Wexham Road, Slough, was sentenced at Reading Crown Court this morning (21 February) having been found guilty after a five-week trial which ended earlier this month. He received 20 years' imprisonment for murder and 15 years for arson with intent to endanger life, to be served concurrently. Judge Zoe Smith said that he must serve a minimum of 20 years.

Saimah Ali (23) died following the house fire in Moor Lane, Maidenhead, during the early hours of 25 June 2010. She was staying at the house with other family members but 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. 

Fifteen other people staying overnight at the house 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.

The semi-detached house 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, led by Det. Supt. Karen Trego from the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit.

Detectives found evidence that petrol had been bought from a petrol station in Bath Road, Taplow, about 20 minutes before the fire. 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, who had been 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.

The motive for the fire remains unclear. Crown Prosecution Service (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 has been brought before the courts, convicted and sentenced for his crimes. He will now be behind bars for a long time.'

Andy Mancey, Area Manager (Response) for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: 'We are pleased that the person responsible for the tragic outcome of this fire has been brought to justice. As this case shows only too clearly, arson has a devastating impact. We will continue to work closely with police to assist them in prosecuting criminals who set deliberate fires, no matter how large or small.' 

Kanwarpal Singh and Navera Ahmed, both aged 18 and from Slough, also stood trial in connection with Mrs Ali's death. They were acquitted of all charges earlier this month.