Endris Mohammed: Mystery behind father's motive after murdering his two children and attempting to kill his wife
A doting father who suffocated the children he described as his ‘best mates’ will take to his prison cell the motive behind their murders.
Endris Mohammed refused to go into the witness box during his trial and gave ‘no comment’ interviews to police investigating the deaths of eight-year-old Saros and his sister Leanor, aged six, and the attempted murder of their mother, Penil Teklehaimanot.
The 47-year-old taxi-driver’s story that he had become depressed by money struggles and lack of work, leading to pressure from his partner, did not wash with police. A quick look at the couple’s bank accounts told a different tale.
Detective Inspector Justin Spanner, who led the murder investigation, said: “Quite simply, he lied. We looked at both of their bank balances and found that neither were in any debt. In fact Penil’s wage alone would have been sufficient to cover their expenditure every month.
“There was no reason why their finances would cause them any strain. They could have survived even if he gave up his job.”
In the middle of a normal shift on October 28 last year, Uber driver Endris Mohammed drove into a service station on Hamstead Road, Great Barr, just after 4pm and bought a container which he filled with three litres of petrol. A police video released after yesterday’s verdict shows him at the counter buying the fuel.
He then went back to work, picking up passengers, arriving home later that evening. His wife Penil had gone to bed, leaving him downstairs with their two children for ‘a sleepover’, the term they used for for spending the night in the living room, watching TV and playing on the X Box before sleep took over.
Penil had not wanted the youngsters to sleep downstairs that night, but police said it was part of Mohammed’s plan.
Police revealed how there was tension in his relationship with Penil, a care worker whom he met at a detention centre in Ashford, Kent, after illegally arriving in the UK in the back of a lorry from his native Ethiopia, following a short time in Germany, in 2006 seeking asylum.
The pair settled in a semi-detached council house in Holland Road but Mohammed did not become eligible for work until 2010 after finally being granted permission to remain in the country.
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He found work in a local factory but never liked the job. Then in September last year, just weeks before the tragedy, he started work as a taxi driver with Uber. D.I. Spanner revealed the couple had separated for a while because Penil did not think Mohammed was pulling his weight. “They both explained it as him not providing for the family, despite the fact their monthly budget was healthy. She did, however, describe him as lazy.
“Penil herself said she believed he carried out the acts on that day to hurt her. There were strains in the marriage, although she refused to speak badly about him in the witness box – in fact she called him the perfect father.
“Only one person can say what the motive behind the killings was and that is Endris Mohammed himself – and although he refused to speak to us, apart for a short prepared statement, we often find it’s what people don’t say that is key to these investigations. In his case, although he accepted he unlawfully killed his children, he has refused to acknowledge any responsibility for trying to kill his wife, which leads us to believe that there were issues there. His initial intention, he said, was to kill himself, then deciding to also kill his children because he believed they couldn’t live without him. However it was also part of his plan to burn the house down, with Penil asleep upstairs, so clearly she was part of his initial intention as well.”
In fact, D. I. Spanner threw doubt on whether Mohammed intended to kill himself at all after forensic investigations failed to find any evidence of petrol on the car or driveway.
He said: “He described pouring petrol over the roof of the car and inside it but our specialist dog didn’t find any traces on the drive, and there would have been splashes if he had done what he said.”
Mohammed’s meticulous planning in the build-up to the fire was another telltale sign, say investigators, that these were not the actions of a chronic depressive but someone who knew what he was doing.
“The fire in the house was very small but the location was key,” said D.I.Spanner. “It was by the front door which would have cut off any means of escape. He had also pierced the gas pipes to the cooker. The only reason the fire didn’t take hold was because he’d saturated the material too well with petrol.”
D.I Spanner concluded: “I would call Endris Mohammed a cold, callous killer. He has shown absolutely no remorse for his children’s deaths or for trying to kill his wife. He spoke to two psychiatrists who gave evidence at the trial but there was nothing in what he said to them that explained why he did what he did.”