Men convicted of shop blast murders found not guilty over illegal cigarettes in Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 11:45 08 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:38 08 January 2019

Emergency services at the scene on Hinckley Road in Leicester, where five people died inthe explosion. Picture PA/Aaron Chown.

Emergency services at the scene on Hinckley Road in Leicester, where five people died inthe explosion. Picture PA/Aaron Chown.

PA Archive/PA Images

Two men convicted of the murder of five people in an explosion in Leicester have been found not guilty of charges relating to illegal cigarettes found in Great Yarmouth.

Viktoria Ljevleva, who was killed in the Leicester shop blast.  PIC: Released by Leicestershire Police.Viktoria Ljevleva, who was killed in the Leicester shop blast. PIC: Released by Leicestershire Police.

Hawkar Hassan, 33, and Arkan Hassan, 38, also known as Arkan Ali, are due to be sentenced later this month after being found guilty of killing five people following a “devastating” explosion at a supermarket in Hinkley Road, Leicester in February last year.

A trial at Leicester Crown Court heard how Hawkar Hassan, Arkan Ali and another man, Aram Kurd, caused the explosion when they set alight “many, many litres of petrol” in the basement of the Polish store as part of a £300,000 insurance scam.

Hawkar Hassan, Arkan Ali and Viktorija Ijevleva, one of the victims of the blast, had been charged in relation to illegal cigarettes and tobacco found in Great Yarmouth in 2015.

All three together with another man, Foad Miru, 38, had been charged with dealing in goods with fraudulent intent.

It related to the discovery of more than 174,000 cigarettes and 18 kilos of tobacco, worth more than £100,000 in the Yarmouth area.

All four, between January 1 2015 and December 2 2015, were said to be knowingly concerned in handling goods, namely cigarettes and rolling tobacco on which the duty had not been paid with intent to defraud Her Majesty of the duty unpaid on the goods.

All four had pleaded not guilty to the offence and were due stand trial at Norwich Crown Court.

But following the convictions of Hawkar Hassan and Arkan Ali to five counts of murder and conspiracy to commit fraud last month Andrew Oliver, prosecuting formally offered “no evidence” against all four defendants.

Mr Oliver asked that not guilty verdicts be formally entered against all defendants.

Judge Stephen Holt agreed to the request and formally entered not guilty verdicts.

He said it would be a “complete waste” of public money to continue with proceedings.

Hawkar Hassan, of Eld Road, Coventry, Arkan Hassan, of Drake Close, Oldham and Miru, of Birkfield Drive, Ipswich were all found not guilty.

Hawkar Hassan, Arkan Ali and Aram Kurd, 34, of Hillary Place, Leicester, are due to be sentenced on 18 January.

The trial heard Mary Ragoobar, 46, and sons Shane Ragoobeer, 18, and Sean, 17, lived above the shop and were at home at the time of the “devastating” explosion on 25 February.

Shane’s girlfriend Leah Beth Reek, 18, and shop worker Viktorija Ijevleva, 22, were also killed.

During the trial, jurors heard how Scotty Ragoobeer, who was 15 at the time, survived because he was dug out of the rubble by police and members of the public just before the blast site was engulfed by flames.

Prosecutor David Herbert QC told jurors the defendants deliberately caused the explosion, intending “to profit from loss of stock, contents and future loss of business from the shop.”

A five-week trial heard the defendants left Ms Ijevleva to die because she was aware of an insurance policy taken out less than three weeks earlier.

Ms Ljevleva studied A-levels and completed a business management degree at City College Norwich in 2016 and also attended Ormiston Venture Academy in Gorleston.

Mr Herbert said the trio “thought she knew too much and decided to leave her to die in the explosion that they created”.

Jurors, who took just over 11 hours to find the trio guilty on all counts, were shown CCTV footage of people escaping from a nearby takeaway moments after the explosion.

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