Blaze-family killer to be sentenced

Banbury Cake: Melissa Crook and Noah died after a fire at their family home in Chatham Hill, Chatham, Kent (Kent Police/PA) Melissa Crook and Noah died after a fire at their family home in Chatham Hill, Chatham, Kent (Kent Police/PA)

A used-car salesman found guilty of murdering his estranged wife, their young son and his father-in-law by setting fire to their family home following the collapse of their marriage is due to be sentenced.

Danai Muhammadi, 24, killed Melissa Crook, 20, and their 15-month-old son Noah by torching the house in Chatham Hill, Chatham, Kent, while fuelled by "spite, anger and resentment".

Mrs Crook's father Mark Crook, 49, was left critically ill with severe burns in hospital following the fire just before 2.30am on September 10 last year. He died six days later.

Muhammadi and his friend, nightclub bouncer Farhad Mahmud, 35, squirted petrol through the letter-box using a garden spray container before igniting it, leading to fire breaking out at the base of the stairs.

Flames cut off any escape route for the family who were asleep upstairs at the time as fire and dense smoke filled the three-bedroom property.

Iraqi-born Muhammadi and Mahmud were each found guilty of three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in relation to Mrs Crook's mother Amanda, 50, and brother Bohdan, 22, who survived.

Muhammadi's new girlfriend, Emma Smith, 21, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter but cleared of murder and attempted murder following a six-week trial.

Prosecutors said unemployed Smith "encouraged and goaded" Muhammadi and exchanged hate-filled texts and online messages with Mrs Crook before her death.

The marriage between Muhammadi and Mrs Crook reached breaking point six months before the arson when he slapped her around the face after she refused to have sex with him one night. It led to her calling the police, for which he received a caution, and Mrs Crook then moved out of their home in Coventry with their son and returned to her parents' home in Chatham.

Muhammadi, of Britannia Street, Coventry, Mahmud, of Fernhill Road, Maidstone, and Smith, of Barley Lea, Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry, will be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court.

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