5 Years On Since Fatal Harlow House Fire

16 October 2017, 17:04

harlow fire

Essex Police have told Heart they think the community have the answers to how a fire in Harlow - which killed six members of the same family - started five years on.

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 October 15, 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.


Five years on police, supported by Dr Shakoor, are continuing to appeal for anyone with information to come forward.


Dr Shakoor said: “Every day I think about my wife and children, the pain has never gone away.


“It is impossible to put in to words the pain and grief I have endured at the loss of my entire family.


“I will never understand why somebody did this and I live in hope that someday someone may come forward with information. If you do know anything, please contact Essex Police.”


Senior investigating officer DCI Stephen Jennings, who is now leading the investigation, added: “No-one will ever be able to imagine the trauma, horror and grief that Dr Shakoor has endured.


“Five years on and we are still committed to solving this murder investigation and securing justice for Dr Shakoor and his family.


“We know the answer to this investigation lies within the community of Harlow. Five years on and loyalties that once existed may have changed.


“If you do know anything about the events of that night and who was responsible please, for the sake of Dr Shakoor and his family, do the right thing and come forward.”


The murder investigation has been one of the most difficult and challenging carried out by Essex Police.


To date more than 70 police officers and staff have worked on the case, nearly 500 people have given witness statements and 1,800 exhibits were collected and stored.


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.


If you have information please contact the Major Investigation Team at Brentwood on 101, email scd.appeals.essex@essex.pnn.police.uk or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.