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Court hears Tipton 'inferno' case

The crown court heard the case in which an Indian woman and three members of her family died when their house was set on fire.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 20:13 IST

An Indian woman and three members of her family died when their house was set on fire on the orders of her unfaithful husband, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

The property in Tipton, Sandwell, became an "inferno" when petrol was poured into the hallway and set alight leading to the deaths of husband and wife Ajit Singh and Gurdish Kaur, their daughter Darshan Kaur and their daughter in law Palvinder Kaur.

Four men Gurmej Rai (37), of West Bromwich; Ravinder Badhan (19), of Hands-worth; Raju Sahonta (20), also of Handsworth, and Ravinder Mattu (20), of Great Barr, have all denied murder. They have also denied the attempted murder of Amanjitt Kaur, aged 24, who managed to escape by jumping out of the burning building from a bedroom window.

Stephen Linehan QC, prosecuting, said the blaze in September 2004 was started on the orders of Rai who had come to this country from Punjab in 1998.

He said he had lived in the UK for six years before his wife, Darshan Kaur came over here. "He was living a bachelor's life, sharing accommodation with male friends and had acquired a mistress.

"He was pretty well able to come and go as he pleased but after his wife arrived her family were insistent he now live with her and behave properly as a husband. The prosecution says he resented that and conceived this plan," said Linehan.

He said Rai knew the other defendants through his work in organising gang labourers from the West Midlands to work in the country, and recruited them to start the blaze in return for money.

The court heard that on September 27, 2004, Badhan, Sahonta and Mattu all met up at a house in Handsworth. Two cans of petrol were purchased and Mattu then drove them near to the address to be attacked in Peake Drive.

Linehan said as a result of what they did the property was rapidly engulfed in flames. He said there was evidence of panic in the house and that Ajit Singh was overcome by toxic fumes while trying to fill a bucket with water. He said the three women who died had collapsed after trying to escape through the flames. The trial continues.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 20:05 IST