Leicester

Leicester house fire deaths: Father speaks of family tragedy

  • 27 September 2013
  • From the section Leicester
Media captionDr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar: "We all know that we are going to die one day"

A man whose wife and three children were killed in a house fire in Leicester has spoken of his upset that their funerals have not taken place two weeks on from the tragedy.

Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, who is currently staying with friends in the city, says he does not know when he will be able to bury his loved ones due to the investigation into their deaths.

Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her daughter Zainab, 19, and two sons, Bilal, 17, and 15-year-old Jamal, died after their home was set alight on 13 September.

In his first interview in the UK, the 52-year-old neurosurgeon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that second post-mortem examinations on members of the family had been delayed until at least 8 October.

He said the last fortnight had been "extremely difficult" for him, but added his faith in Islam had given him "strength".

Image caption The family members were found dead in upstairs bedrooms

"It was God's plan to take the life," he said.

Police have charged a man with murder over the fire, which began shortly after midnight in Leicester's Wood Hill.

Kemo Porter, 18, of Browning Street, Leicester, was remanded in custody at Leicester Magistrates' Court.

A number of further arrests have also been made.

At the time of the fire, Dr Taufiq was in Dublin, from where he travelled at weekends to see his wife and children who were studying in Leicester for an Islamic education.

He spoke in detail about the moment he was told that the family home was on fire.

"One of my friends from Leicester, he rang me at 03:10 BST. He said to me 'have you heard anything?' I said 'no'."

"He said: 'Your house (is) on fire'."

'God testing me'

"The police had blocked the road, they were helpless," said Dr Taufiq.

"What I thought was God was going to test me with this big difficulty and calamity."

It was not until he got to Dublin airport that he was told by police that his wife and three children had died in the fire.

"As a neurosurgeon I know we deal with life and death every day - so it was in my mind, something which is beyond your control."

Dr Taufiq said it had been too distressing for him to step foot in the family home, which was gutted by the fire.

He also paid tribute to Leicestershire Police and described their investigation as "very wide".

The neurosurgeon said he was "delighted" that community relations had remained peaceful in Leicester since the fire.

He said his "aim" was that similar incidents should "not happen to any other family".

Dr Taufiq plans for his wife and children to be buried in Ireland, where he said he will continue to live and practice his faith.

You can listen again to the full interview on the Today programme website, and BBC iPlayer.

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