Birkby Fire: Survivors recall horror

Shahid Mohammed on trial Credit: West Yorkshire Police

A survivor of the 2002 Birkby house fire has told how she was woken by thesound of screaming on the day of the blaze which killed eight of her relatives.

Siddiqah Aziz told how she managed to save her father from the inferno but was prevented from coming to the aid of other family members by a wall of flames, which burnt her hair and face.

Shahid Mohammed, 36, is on trial at Leeds Crown Court accused of killing five children and three adults in the fire on May 12 2002 in Osborne Road, Huddersfield.

He also faces a single charge of conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life.

The court heard how Ms Aziz's mother, Zaib-un-Nisa, 54, died a week after the incident from injuries sustained in a fall.

Her sister, Nafeesa Aziz, 35, also died, along with her daughters, Tayyaba Bootall, three, Rabiah Bootall, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, five, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and six-month-old Najeebah Nawaz,

The witness's brother, known as Ateeq, 18, also died in the blaze and is likely to have been the target of the attack, prosecutors say.

Giving evidence on Thursday, Ms Aziz said that the days leading up to the fire had been "completely normal" and that, as far as she was aware, her family had no enemies.

She told how she had gone to bed at around 12.30am on the morning of theattack, with two of her sister's children, Tayyaba and Rabiah, lying on a quilton her bedroom floor.

Her brother, Mohammed Shaffique, was also in the house, and said that he was awoken by the sound of his mother's voice at around 2am.

He said that, when he attempted to open the bedroom door in order to get on to the landing, his left hand and arm caught fire.

"As I could see the flames coming in, I thought the only way of escaping was to use the window," he said.

The witness told how he jumped from the upper-floor window first, followed by his mother, who he said had landed on some concrete in the garden.

The trial continues.