Leicester explosion 'linked to insurance fraud'

Aftermath of Hinckley Road shop blast Image copyright PA
Image caption The shop and flat above were both destroyed in the blast

Three men who are accused of murdering five people when a shop exploded have been charged with fraudulently trying to benefit from an insurance claim.

It is alleged that the three men conspired together with shop worker Viktorija Ijevleva - who was herself killed in the explosion in Leicester.

Aram Kurd, Hawkar Hassan and Arkan Ali deny the new charge, together with charges of murder and manslaughter.

They are due to stand trial in November.

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Shop worker Viktorija Ijevleva, who was killed in the explosion, is alleged to have conspired with the three defendants

The explosion at 253 Hinckley Road destroyed the Zabka supermarket and the flat above it, where a family of five were living.

It killed Mary Ragoobar and two of her sons, Shane and Sean Ragoobeer, along with Shane's girlfriend, Leah Reek.

The third son survived and the boys' father was working away at the time.

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Mary Ragoobar was killed in the explosion, together with her sons Shane and Sean Ragoobeer

Mr Kurd, 33, of Hillary Place, Leicester, Mr Hassan, 32, of no fixed address, and Mr Ali, 37, of Drake Close, Oldham, appeared at Leicester Crown Court earlier where they pleaded not guilty to the new charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

The full wording of the charge alleges that they conspired with Ms Ijevleva between 31 December 2017 and 26 February 2018 - the day after the explosion.

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Leah Reek, who was the girlfriend of Shane Ragoobeer, also died in the explosion

It alleges they dishonestly made representations "intending thereby to make a gain for themselves by pursuing an insurance claim in respect of a fire at the business premises known as Zabka".

The three defendants are accused of both murder and manslaughter because these are alternative charges, and the jury will be able to convict them of either, or neither.

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