Dr Abdul Shakoor was the only survivor of the fire which claimed the lives of his wife 44-year-old Dr Sabah Usmani and five children – daughters Hira, 12, and Maheen, three, and sons Sohaib, 11, Muneeb, nine and Rayyan, six.
The family were asleep at their terraced home in Barn Mead, Harlow at 1.40am on 15 October 2012 when the fire swept through the downstairs of the property. A silver Ford Focus was set alight at the same time.
The home was quickly engulfed by flames and smoke. Desperate to raise the alarm and get help for his family, Dr Shakoor managed to jump from an upstairs window. Sadly the fire took hold and Dr Shakoor’s wife and children did not survive.
Detectives launched a murder investigation, called Operation Shakespeare, but to date they have been unable to bring those responsible for the fire to justice.
An absolute tragedy
Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said:
“The deaths of Sabah Usmani and her five children is an absolute tragedy and our thoughts continue to be with her husband, Dr Abdul Shakoor. “The pain he has experienced in losing his entire family is unimaginable. “His grief is compounded by the fact that no-one has been brought to justice for what happened. “Our investigation into that tragic night has been an extensive one. “More than 70 police officers and staff have worked on the investigation into the fire, around 500 people have given witness statements, and 1,800 exhibits were collected and stored. “No case is ever closed and this investigation has been regularly reviewed to see if it is possible to identify new lines of enquiry. “I need anyone who has any information about that night to contact us. “Loyalties do change and people who felt they previously could not come forward to us, may now feel they are able to.”
Can you help?
Detectives are continuing to appeal for information in relation to the following lines of enquiry:
A white man aged in his late teens/early 20s on a bicycle seen in the area when the house and car were set alight. It is thought he could be a key witness.
The family laptop, a black Toshiba Satellite, which was taken from the house in a burglary. This has not been located. Do you know where the laptop is or was?
The laptop was fitted with a two-pin lead because it was bought in Saudi Arabia. The laptop bag and lead were later recovered near to the scene between Whitewaits and St Michael’s Close. Did you see these items being dumped or did you notice any suspicious activity in these areas at the time?
Attached to the laptop lead was a shaver adapter plug. This did not belong to the Shakoor family which suggests someone tried to use the plug. Did you have a shaver plug missing from your home at the time?
Do you know anything about the silver Ford Focus which was set alight?
In November 2012 a person rang Harlow police station from a phone box and left a message about the fire. Are you that person? Please contact us.
Also in November 2012 a piece of paper about the murder investigation was left on a shelf in Boots in Harlow. Did you leave that piece of paper? Please contact us.
Do you have information?
Detectives investigating the fatal fire continue to appeal to the community for any information which could help bring those responsible to justice.
If you have any information, please get in contact with us. You can contact us through our Digital 101 service, or you can call 101.