'Blast tragedy at Leicester kebab shop was a botched insurance job'
A chef was killed in a massive explosion as he set fire to a kebab shop in a £250,000 insurance scam, a jury has heard.
Married father-of-two Fiaz Ahmed Ansari died when Kams Grill, in Narborough Road, Leicester, was destroyed by the blast.
His body was found as builders cleared up the next day.
Mr Ansari, 41, had a financial interest in the failing business, where he worked, and had spread a rumour someone had threatened to burn the building down, it was claimed.
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He recruited employee Shahbaaz Khan and friend Mehwish Yasin, both 25, to assist him.
The pair appeared at Leicester Crown Court yesterday to deny Mr Ansari's manslaughter and reckless arson.
The court heard Mr Ansari took out £250,000 "business interruption" cover shortly before the incident, which went spectacularly wrong and cost him his life.
The defendants claimed they thought it would only be a "small fire" to justify the insurance claim.
The court was played CCTV footage of the huge blast, on August 29 last year.
It destroyed the leased restaurant and also caused major damage to nearby properties.
A fireball lit up the street and jettisoned debris all around when the shop exploded at 2.22am.
Some witnesses feared it was a bomb going off but "by luck" no-one other than Mr Ansari was harmed.
Khan, a breadmaker at the grill, also shared Mr Ansari's apartment at Abbey Meadow, Abbey Park Road, Leicester.
The two men were allegedly dropped off at the scene, in the early hours, by Yasin.
She lived in nearby Cranmer Street, West End, Leicester, where she waited in the car for their return.
Adrienne Lucking, prosecuting, said the two men prepared to start a fire in the kitchen. They had 17 litres of petrol, some of which got on to Khan's clothing.
A mother and son passing heard the sound of hissing.
Mrs Lucking said: "There was a massive explosion. Khan escaped, but Mr Ansari was killed."
She alleged both defendants were responsible for taking part in the "joint enterprise" and said gas may also have been used as an accelerant.
She said: "It's not the prosecution case they intended Mr Ansari would die or be seriously injured. What happened caused an obvious risk to the lives and pedestrians and motorists, who avoided major injury by luck."
Khan, in a prepared statement for the police, claimed he followed Mr Ansari to the upstairs seating area.
There, Mr Ansari doused previously-hidden petrol. Khan claimed Mr Ansari urged him to leave, handing him a holdall containing two petrol cans.
Khan left him to start the fire and Mr Ansari was supposed to join him in a nearby alleyway, leading to Cranmer Street, where Yasin was waiting.
Mrs Lucking said Khan stated he was "horrified and shocked" by the explosion. There was no sign of Mr Ansari. He was too shocked to alert the emergency services.
Mrs Lucking said: "Khan must have known it wasn't a small fire, with 17 litres of petrol.
"He said he didn't anticipate anything like an explosion and didn't think Mr Ansari would be injured, let alone killed."
Yasin, who was training at Leicester University to be a secondary school science teacher, dropped Khan off at his flat, where he changed his clothes.
Witnesses alerted the police to her vehicle, a silver Kia.
She was arrested in the vehicle at 3.05 am.
Khan was arrested shortly after with £1,255 on him, which he said was his savings.
The trial continues.