Fiaz Munshi: The face of a double killer convicted over the 1997 Magdalen Road arson

Fiaz Munshi faces jail over two counts of manslaughter

Fiaz Munshi faces jail over two counts of manslaughter

First published in News
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter. Call me on (01865) 425373

FIAZ Munshi is facing a lengthy prison sentence today after she was found guilty of being involved in an arson attack which killed two children. 

The 38-year-old was yesterday convicted of two counts of manslaughter after a “complex and challenging” six-week trial at Oxford Crown Court. 

After almost eight hours of deliberation, the jury found the mother-of-two unanimously not guilty of murder, prompting gasps from the public gallery. 

But Munshi had tears in her eyes and looked repeatedly at the floor as she was found guilty of her part in the fatal house fire in East Oxford in 1997, which killed eight-year-old Anum Khan and her 15-year-old brother Majid. 

She is now the seventh person to be convicted in relation to the fire, after five men received life sentences for murder in 1998.

Her sister Riaz was also jailed for manslaughter in 1999. 

It was on August 26, 1997, that Munshi travelled to East Oxford with the people convicted of the murders and allowed petrol to be squirted through the letterbox of the Khan family home in Magdalen Road and set alight. 

Fiaz Munshi was not charged until October last year because a police error meant she was not arrested for nine years after returning to the UK from Pakistan. 

Speaking after the verdict, one of the sisters of Munshi’s victims, Shehnaz Akhtar, said the family needed time to come to terms with the news. 

She said: “It is one of the happiest days of our lives. We have been saying she was guilty all the way along. 

“We just have got the sentence to go now, then it will be over.” 

Mr Justice Robin Spencer thanked the Khan family and Munshi supporters in the public gallery for the “dignified” way they listened as the verdicts were read out. 

But moments later, after the judge had left court, shouts broke out from both sides in the courtroom and the groups had to be separated by police officers and security guards. 

Afterwards senior investigating officer in the case Detective Inspector Craig Kirby said: “Justice has been done.”

He added: “It was a complex and challenging case, but ultimately the jury found Fiaz Munshi guilty of being involved in the fatal fire.” 

DI Kirby also said he expected the judge to pass a “significant” prison sentence. 
Munshi will be sentenced on Thursday.

Police say sorry for failing to arrest Munshi in 2005

A senior police officer has apologised for an error that delayed the arrest and conviction of Fiaz Munshi for man-slaughter.

Thames Valley Police Detective Inspector Craig Kirby said he had personally said sorry to the Khan family for the failure to arrest the 38-year-old when she returned to the UK in 2005.

It was left up to Anum and Majid’s older sister Nazmeen Akhtar to prompt the latest police investigation after she had a recurring nightmare about Fiaz Munshi.

The 36-year-old said in 2012 she dreamt three times about her late brother Majid having been badly burned after the fire.

But she said in each of the dreams Fiaz Munshi – convicted yesterday – was lurking in the background.

She said: “I suppose, subconsciously, I was thinking she had got away.

“I had never had that kind of nightmare before.”

Mrs Akhtar said she had never felt right that Munshi had not faced court, adding: “She was never forgotten, she was always there.”

After Nazmeen made the call, police discovered Munshi was back in the country but she said the family had always thought Fiaz was living in Pakistan, adding: “We always thought she was there and still there – we never had a clue she was here.”

Munshi had returned to the UK in 2004 and Yorkshire Police had told Thames Valley Police she was there in 2005.

But prosecutor Neil Moore told the trial: “An error, a very important and regrettable error, was made and the information that was given was not processed as it should have been.

Oxford Mail:

  •  Det Insp Craig Kirby talks to Oxford Mail court reporter Joe Nimmo following yesterday’s verdict

“If it had been processed this trial would have inevitably taken place some years earlier.”

Speaking yesterday after the unanimous manslaughter verdicts were returned, Det Insp Kirby said it was a “genuine” mistake.

He said: “I appreciate it was a significant and serious mistake, which prevented us bringing Fiaz Munshi to justice earlier.

“But that was never going to stop us proceeding with this case because it was the right thing to have done.”

He added: “It appears the information that Fiaz Munshi was back in the UK was not processed properly when it was sent to Thames Valley Police in 2005.

“It also appears that despite the original investigators’ belief she would remain listed as wanted on the Police National Computer, meaning she would be arrested on the return to the UK, this did not happen.

“Investigations conducted by the current investigation team have been unable to ascertain why the information in 2005 was not acted upon or why the wanted marker did not remain.

“However as soon as identified, this new opportunity to bring her to justice a full review of the case was conducted with the CPS which resulted in the successful arrest and prosecution.

“I hope the verdict today sends a very clear message to anyone thinking they have escaped justice that no matter how much time has passed we will continue to pursue you and bring you before the courts.”

To listen to DI Kirby’s reaction on the court steps go to ow.ly/zszl3

Cricket tournament to mark 20th anniversary of deaths

Cheney School pupil Majid, 15, was a talented cricketer and played for teams including the Rover Cowley and Oxfordshire youth teams.

The Majid and Anum Memorial Cricket Tournament was launched in his and his sister’s memories.
Their sister Nazmeen Akhtar plans to revitalise the tournament and host another to mark the 20th anniversary of their deaths.

Ian Evans, 32, who played cricket with Majid, said: “He was a man full of life he loved his family and friends his older cousins (Zulfy, Saj, Jammy) were often topics of a post weekend conversation.

“He was a popular guy, especially with the ladies, and renowned for his beaming smile and infectious laugh. He was a loyal passionate friend who would always be there if you needed him.

“He was also a quick and slippery swing bowler who also batted with fantastic balance and timing who was comfortable scoring both sides of the wicket.

“At 32 I often wonder what he would be like today. I have no doubt we would all still be close. I miss him.”

His cricket coach Rosina Walker-Evans added: “Majid Khan was a young man with the heart of a lion, a beaming smile, a gentle chuckle, a glint in his eye and a heart of pure gold.”

Tribute from victims’ family

Majid and Anum, both special in every way.

Their beautiful smiles remembered by many.

Personalities that glowed and they were both full of life.

Caring, considerate and loving.

Majid was always bursting with enthusiasm and a charmer.

Anum was like a delicate flower, beautiful, shy, prim and intelligent.

We have always loved you and both of you have remained deep in our hearts.

You are in a special place and one day we will meet......

We knew this day would come with the will of Allah and that justice would be done.

We never gave up and we never forgot all we ever wanted was justice for you and for us.

Our prayers were finally answered.

We love you so much that words can't explain.

We love you both even more

xxxx

Family’s relief as a killer is finally arrested and tried

Oxford Mail:

  • Anum Khan, who died aged eight in the arson attack. This picture was pulled from the remnants of the fire

FIAZ Munshi’s escape from justice tormented the Khan Akhtar family for 17 years.

The family always knew she had a big part in the plan to burn their house down and the deaths of their two youngest children.

And Mehfooz Akhtar, mother of murdered Anum and Majid Khan, could not bring herself to visit her children’s graves because questions remained unanswered.

The family lost almost everything they owned in the fire but rebuilt their home and live there today.

Speaking at the Magdalen Road house, eldest child Shehnaz Akhtar, 42, said: “It has always been part of our daily lives knowing she hadn’t been brought to justice.”

But she said: “We knew that day would come when she would be arrested and tried.

“We knew when the time was right and through the will of God. You cannot escape something serious like that.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Majid Khan, who was 15 when he was killed in the attack

And she said she was grateful the family had all lived to see justice done.

Every new child in the family now receives the middle name of either Anum or Majid.

Shehnaz said: “That is going to carry on forever. That is a gift we were able to give to our children who weren’t born at the time so they could have a connection.”

The family sat through the entire six-week trial at Oxford Crown Court and took the witness stand to testify how Fiaz Munshi had come into their lives and come to hate them for ordering her to stay away from their eldest son, Amjad.

Another sister, Billqees Akhtar, 38, who fled the house on the night of the fire, said: “This has been lingering on but there was always hope.

Oxford Mail:

  • Shehnaz Akhtar looks at family photographs

“Those 17 years were a heavy and emotional 17 years.

“There was not a day gone past that we haven’t cried. This final chapter has been long, heavy, and emotional, not just for us but the community, friends and family, and the school.”

She said now maybe her mother could visit her children’s graves at Botley Cemetery.

Billqees also said some members of the family still could not go to sleep until after 3.30am, when they can relax after the 3.10am time the arsonists struck that night.

She said: “I sleep with the light on – I always have from that day. Everybody has their own way of dealing with it.”

‘I will never forget my best friend Anum’

Sarita Jackson, 25, who was Anum’s best friend at East Oxford’s SS Mary and John Primary, paid her tribute.

She said: “Friends are like blessings and that was Anum. She was my best friend.

“I know she is in a better place but I miss her and she was too young to die.

“I still sit and cry wondering why did it had to happen this way? It hurts so much because there’s nothing I can do or say to bring her back.

“I will always remember her blue coat and that beautiful smile.

“Anum, you may be out of sight but you will always remain In my heart. I thank God for blessing me with a friend like you and being a part of my life in those few years.”

In 2008, a memorial garden to Anum was created at the Comper Foundation Stage School in Hertford Street, East Oxford, which is part of SS Mary and John Primary.

The siblings’ cousin Nasser Nasib, 41, who now lives in Norfolk, said: “Time has flown by but memories of them are very vivid in my thoughts.

Oxford Mail:

  • Sarita Jackson

“I can never forget the day of my engagement when Anum performed a very beautiful and confident dance amongst the celebrations.

“She was one who always shone amongst the youngsters and was full of life, passion and enthusiasm.

“If Anum were with us today she would have been happily married and I most certainly would have gone out of my way to repay her at her wedding by performing a dance for her, an opportunity I unfortunately will never get.

“Majid was closer to us than his own family, he was our fifth brother. He was closest to my brothers Zulfi and Saj, they were inseparable and in there hearts they always will be.

“He was always with us because of his maturity, adventurous personality and desire for life progression. He had an infectious laugh and a cheeky smile, was older than his years and was most certainly taken well before his time.”

Profile of the killers

Oxford Mail:

  • Fiaz Munshi

Fiaz Munshi

Age: 38. Aged 21 at the time of the fire

Address: Manley Road in Oldham.

Convicted of: Manslaughter

Sentence: Judge to pass sentence tomorrow

Background: Former girlfriend of Amjad Khan and sister of Riaz Munshi. Dating Haq Nawaz at the time of the fire

Involvement: Described as the “driving force” behind the killings after the Khan family stopped her from seeing their son Amjad. Rode in one of two cars to Oxford from Stevenage on the night of the fire

Oxford Mail:

  • Riaz Munshi

Riaz Munshi

Age: Now thought to be 43. Aged 26 at the time of the arson

Former address: Fulwell Road, Sheffield

Convicted of: Manslaughter

Sentence: 12 years. Now free

Background: Girlfriend of Haroon Sharif and sister of Fiaz

Involvement: Rode in one of two cars to Oxford from Stevenage

Oxford Mail:

  • Alan Swanton

Alan Swanton

Age: Now thought to be 36. Aged 19 at the time of the arson

Former address: Southern Way, Letchworth, Hertfordshire

Convicted of: Murder

Sentence: Life 15 years. Now free

Involvement: Close friends with Liedl and friends with the Nawaz brothers who recruited him and Liedl for the task. Set fire to the house with Liedl after squirting petrol through the letterbox and posting a match through

Oxford Mail:

  • Thomas Liedl

Thomas Liedl

Age: Now thought to be 36. Aged 19 at the time of the arson

Former address: Birdshill, Letchworth, Hertfordshire

Convicted of: Murder

Sentence: Life 15 years. Now free

Involvement: Set fire to the house with Swanton after squirted petrol through the letterbox and posting a match through

Oxford Mail:

  • Mohammed Nawaz

Mohammed Nawaz

Age: Now thought to be 54. Aged 37 at the time of the arson

Former address: Ridge Road, Letchworth, Hertfordshire

Convicted of: Murder

Sentence: Life 17 years

Involvement: Drove Liedl and Swanton to the house. Haq Nawaz’s brother and cousin to Haroon Sharif

Oxford Mail:

  • Haq Nawaz

Haq Nawaz

Age: Now thought to be 48. Aged 31 at the time

Former address: Ridge Road, Letchworth, Hertfordshire

Convicted of: Murder

Sentence: Life 22 years

Involvement: Was dating Fiaz and drove the Munshi sisters and Sundar Khutan to Oxford that night. Haroon Sharif’s cousin

Oxford Mail:

  • Haroon Sharif

Haroon Sharif

Age: Thought to be 38. Aged 21 at the time of the arson

Former address: Morrell Avenue, Oxford

Convicted of: Murder

Sentence: Life 22 years

Involvement: Drug dealer who was dating Riaz and was also “bad mouthed” by the Khan family after Amjad was jailed. Cousin to Haq and Mohammed Nawaz. Acted as a lookout on the night of the fire

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