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GUILTY: Endris Mohammed convicted of murdering children who were smothered and left in a blazing home - with VIDEO

Great Barr | Crime | Published:

A father who smothered his young children with a petrol-soaked rag before starting a blaze in their home has been convicted of murder.

Endris Mohammed looked on emotionless as jurors unanimously convicted him of murdering schoolchildren Saros and Leanor, as well as attempting to kill his wife in Great Barr.

Jurors found the Uber taxi driver guilty of his callous crimes this morning after just half-an-hour deliberating at Birmingham Crown Court.

He is now facing life behind bars and will be sentenced for his offending on Monday.

Endris Mohammed captured buying jerrycan of fuel

Mr Justice Gilbart, who presided over the two week-trial, thanked jurors and said: “You just dealt with a very important case. You were working throughout the case and that was perfectly obvious.”

Mohammed admitted killing his children but denied murder on grounds of diminished responsibility and claimed he was mentally impaired.

The 47-year-old also denied attempting to murder wife Penil Teklehaimanot.

But jurors rejected his claims, with Ms Teklehaimanot bravely facing the murderer during her husband’s trial. The trial heard he appeared normal in the run-up to the deaths.

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The front door mat of the Great Barr home where Mohammed set fire to clothing, that in turn set the smoke alarm off

During the trial, jurors heard Mohammed had filled a fuel canister with three litres of petrol as he plotted to kill his family.

The youngsters were smothered by their father before he doused the home in petrol and set it alight, as his wife slept upstairs.

He fled in his Uber taxi, leaving his family to die in their semi-detached home in Holland Road, Hamstead.

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The kitchen cooker was dislodged, leaking gas into the home, the back door locked and the key tossed onto the front lawn, denying the family any chance of escape, prosecutor Mr Jonas Hankin QC said.

The lifeless bodies of eight-year-old Saros and six-year-old Leanor were pulled from the house as it went up in flames by their mother and a neighbour, before being placed on the garden.

Mohammed was driving on the M6 as neighbours and paramedics battled to save his children, with his taxi later set on fire 40 miles away in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

The killer was found on the ground next to the vehicle with serious burns and spent three months in hospital.

West Midlands Police have released this image of a badly burned Mohammed after his arrest

Mohammed claimed he had been consumed by depression over a lack of money and was taken over by a ‘powerful force’ urging him to kill himself, the court heard.

Mohammed, who will be sentenced on Monday, pursed his lips but showed no other sign of emotion as he was found guilty just 30 minutes after the jury retired.

Mohammed met his wife in 2006 in Kent, after they came to Britain from East Africa as asylum seekers.

The front door mat of the Great Barr home where Mohammed set fire to clothing, that in turn set the smoke alarm off

Giving evidence during the trial, Mrs Teklehaimanot said Mohammed was "a gentle, quiet man" who had not seemed angry or irritable in the months before her children were killed.

Mrs Teklehaimanot was sleeping upstairs when Mohammed smothered Saros and Leanor during a half-term "sleepover" in the lounge.

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.

Commenting after the verdicts, Detective Inspector Justin Spanner, of West Midlands Police, described the deaths as an "absolutely horrific" set of events.

WATCH as Detective Inspector Justin Spanner reveals Mohammed's movements on the day of the tragedy

Endris Mohammed murder trial: Police react to guilty verdict

The senior officer said: "The evidence of the pre-planning, the fact that two children have lost their lives, who were so young, vibrant, and were doing so well at school and had such a wonderful future ahead of them both - this has to be one of the worst cases I've dealt with.

"Had the fire taken hold, and had gas escaped from the pipe, it could have caused an immense explosion and killed even more people than we are dealing with at the moment.

"Penil has lost absolutely everything in this. She has lost her children, her husband who she trusted and loved the most, she has lost her house.

"She is an extremely brave lady who has been put through not only that, but also having to go to court to give evidence.

"The investigation team, and the I'm sure the community, hope that she is able to find a way of going forward."

He added today: "This is an absolutely tragic set of circumstances and my thoughts are with everyone who has been affected.

“The two children had been allowed to stay downstairs and sleep on a mattress as a special ‘sleepover’ treat. Their mum went to bed around midnight and left Mohammed with the youngsters. The next thing she knew was being awoken by the smoke alarm after he’d set fire to some clothing in the hall.

"Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the two children could not be saved.

"Fortunately Penil was not badly injured, but it could have been a very different story; Mohammed had locked the family in the house before pouring petrol in the hallway and living room and setting fire to the house. He also turned the electricity off so she would not be able to see and attempted to disable the fire alarm.

"Finally he sabotaged the pipe to the gas cooker by stabbing the pipe numerous times in an attempt to release gas into the house, it’s very fortunate the fire did not take hold and cause an explosion."

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