Fresh appeal over crucial lines of enquiry five years since Harlow house fire

Police appeal for family laptop taken from the house Credit: Essex Police

Five years on from a house fire in Harlow which killed a mother and her five children, police are re-appealing for help to find those who started it.

Dr Abdul Shakoor was the only one of his family who survived when he jumped out of a window to try and find help as the fire engulfed their home in Barn Mead. His wife and children all died.

Police launched a murder investigation but have never been able to find who was responsible.

They're renewing a public appeal to help try and solve the case - which they say is one of the most complex they've ever worked on.

Dr Sabah Usmani and her five children Credit: Essex Police
Inside the Shakoor family home Credit: Essex Police

"Every day I think about my wife and children, the pain has never gone away. It is impossible to put in to words the pain and grief I have endured at the loss of my entire family. I will never understand why somebody did this and I live in hope that someday someone may come forward with information. If you do know anything, please contact Essex Police.”

– Dr Shakoor

The murder investigation has been one of the most difficult and challenging carried out by Essex Police.

To date more than 70 police officers and staff have worked on the case, nearly 500 people have given witness statements and 1,800 exhibits were collected and stored.

Police officers have worked on the case

"Five years on and we are still committed to solving this murder investigation and securing justice for Dr Shakoor and his family. We know the answer to this investigation lies within the community of Harlow. Five years on and loyalties that once existed may have changed. If you do know anything about the events of that night and who was responsible please, for the sake of Dr Shakoor and his family, do the right thing and come forward.”

– DCI Stephen Jennings, Senior Investigating Officer, Essex Police
An image of the missing laptop Credit: Essex Police

Detectives are now appealing for help with the following lines of enquiry:

  • A white man aged in his late teens/early 20s was seen in the area on a bicycle and could be a key witness.
  • The family laptop, a black Toshiba Satellite was taken from the house in a burglary. This has not been located.
  • The laptop bag and lead were later recovered near to the scene between Whitewaits and St Michael’s Close. Did you see these items being dumped?
  • Attached to the laptop lead was a shaver adapter plug. This did not belong to the Shakoor family which suggests someone tried to use the plug.
  • Do you know anything about the silver Ford Focus which was set alight?
  • In November 2012 a person rang Harlow police station from a phone box and left a message about the fire. Are you that person?
  • Also in November 2012 a piece of paper about the murder investigation was left on a shelf in Boots in Harlow. Did you leave that piece of paper?