TWO men have been jailed for 18 months for their parts in a plot to torch a failing taxi firm which ended in tragedy after a huge explosion killed the fire-starter.
Timothy Darby, aged 37, set fire to Advance Taxis on Abbeydale Road, Sharrow, Sheffield, so the owners could claim on the insurance, but he died from horrific burns.
The plot was orchestrated by Sheffield Council Labour party candidate Mohammed Hafiz, 32, his brother Ilyas Khan, 23, who was vice chairman of the Nether Edge Labour Party, and their cousin Irfan Khan, 29, a would-be barrister, who were each jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Abid Ali Khan, 34, of Abbeyfield Road, Nether Edge, who was not related to the family but had invested £5,000 in the firm, was jailed for 18 months.
The youngest Khan brother Mohammed Sarab, 20, of Machon Bank, Nether Edge, was given 18 months in a young offenders’ institution.
Judge Robert Moore said it would be “unjust and wrong” to suspend their sentences or impose community penalties because the case was so serious.
David Gordon, prosecuting, said the aim of the plot was to make a fraudulent insurance claim.
“In the course of setting the fire Timothy Darby suffered severe burns from which he died.”
Mr Gordon said Abid and Mohammed Khan became aware of the plot only on the night of the arson on Bonfire Night 2009, but got involved when they laid a false trail for the police.
After the fire was set, Mohammed Khan rang the police to claim four men in balaclavas had entered the Advance Taxi offices and attacked Irfan Khan.
“Their role in the conspiracy was to assist in putting the police off the scent and have the investigating officers treat this, not as an inside job, which it was, but as an outside job committed by unknown assailants.”
Lalith De Kauwe, defending Mohammed Khan, said he was the youngest member of the family and was in an impossible position as he couldn’t disobey the instructions given to him.
Askhok Kullard, defending Abid Khan, said his involvement with the Khan family was the ‘biggest mistake of his life’.