A newsagent and his friend have been jailed for setting fire to his business in a failed £25,000 insurance scam.
The blaze started by business owner Fuad Deen, 22, his friend Qasim Parvez, 20, and up to two others, caused a blast which blew out the front of the Wyke shop, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.
Sentencing the pair to jail, Judge Robert Bartfield said the explosion could have injured or killed any passers-by.
The court heard Deen owned the business, Wyke News, in Huddersfield Road, while the building itself was owned by the grandfather of Parvez.
Prosecuting, Philip Adams said the business was in debt and in about October 2011, Deen hatched a plan to destroy the premises and make an insurance claim to recover the losses.
The court heard the month before the blast, Deen had taken out a buildings and contents policy with Brit Insurance.
The blaze was started overnight between October 25 and 26, 2011, Mr Adams said.
He said: “Shortly after midnight, several of the local residents heard a loud explosion coming from the local shop and they looked out of their windows to see that the premises were ablaze. The shop continued to burn fiercely and the police and fire brigade were called out.”
Fire investigators found three items dropped by the arsonists – a set of keys to the shop, an electronic fob to work the roller shutters and a cap which was found to have the DNA of Deen, Parvez and a third unknown individual on it.
Witnesses had seen a Mitsubishi Shogun driving away from the scene.
Mr Adams said in November, Deen made a claim for £25,000, which was rejected as the insurance company had their own concerns. Mitigating for Deen, Mohammed Nawaz said: “He was still a young man at the time and really possessed no real idea of how to conduct a business.
“Rather than seeking help from his very supportive family, or elsewhere, he initially buried his head, then came up with a scheme of what to do.”
Mitigating for Parvez, Rebecca Young said he admitted being the driver of the car.
She said: “He is an extremely impressionable young man.”
Deen, of Rooley Lane, Bradford, and Parvez, of Mayo Drive, Odsal, Bradford, had both pleaded guilty to arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, at a previous hearings.
Sentencing, Judge Robert Bartfield said: “You, Fuad Deen, I am satisfied, and one other, went to the shutters, poured in an accelerant, set a match to it and stood back. There was a considerable explosion and the shop front was blown out into the street.”
“Had somebody been driving along the road or passing close to it then there could have been serious injury or loss of life.”
He sentenced Deen to two years and three months in prison and Parvez to two years in prison.