You deliberately snuffed out their young lives: Judge jails Great Barr father for at least 33 years after he murdered his children
A father who murdered his two young children with a petrol-soaked cloth and then tried to kill his wife in a gas explosion at their Great Barr home was today jailed for life to serve a minimum of 33 years.
Taxi driver Endris Mohammed murdered eight-year-old Saros Endris and his sister Leanor, six, and attempted to murder his partner, Penil Teklehaimanot, by tampering with a gas pipe and setting fire to the family home in Hamstead, Great Barr.
Mohammed had denied the murders, claiming diminished responsibility allegedly caused by a depressive disorder. But, rejecting his claims that he had not meant to kill his family, Mr Justice Andrew Gilbart said: "You designed to kill all three."
Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court today, Mr Justice Gilbart told Mohammed: "This country has a long proud tradition of welcoming those who flee from persecution. That secure and apparently happy life was destroyed by you. Your partner lost her family and her home at one fell swoop."
He went on: "That safe haven she shared with you was destroyed by you in the most appalling manner imaginable."
In a statement, Ms Teklehaimanot described her children as polite, clever and popular youngsters. "Their futures stretched out before them – like a book waiting to be read. Saros and Leanor brought so much happiness and joy to my life," she said.
The Judge said Mohammed had 'deliberately snuffed out their young lives'. He said they had trusted him implicitly and were enjoying his company on the night of the murders when they had been allowed to have a 'sleepover' downstairs at the house.
"You repaid their trust in you by killing them," he added.
Mohammed was found guilty of two counts of murder and one of attempted murder after a two-week trial.
The taxi driver, who suffered burns to his head after setting the passenger side of his cab alight on the night of the killings, had admitted smothering his children. He did not give evidence during his defence case but argued through his legal team that he was depressed about his future amid money worries.
The 47-year-old fled in his Uber cab after killing Saros and Leanor at their home in Holland Road in the early hours of October 28 last year, having bought a fuel can and three litres of petrol the previous day.
Mohammed met his wife in 2006 in Kent, after they came to Britain from East Africa as asylum seekers.
Giving evidence during the trial, Ms Teklehaimanot said Mohammed was “a gentle, quiet man” who had not seemed angry or irritable in the months before her children were killed.
Ms Teklehaimanot was sleeping upstairs when Mohammed smothered Saros and Leanor during their half-term “sleepover”.
In her evidence to the jury, Mrs Teklehaimanot, who was woken by a smoke alarm, told how she initially thought her children were asleep when she was unable to wake them.
The court heard Mohammed claimed he had decided to end his own life because his “hopes for a good life in England” had failed, but police inquiries showed the family could live off his wife’s earnings as a care worker.