A Sydney shopkeeper who murdered a young man and killed a mother and her baby after setting fire to his store in a bungled insurance scam has been sentenced to at least 30 years in jail.
New South Wales supreme court justice Elizabeth Fullerton said there was no remorse shown by Adeel Ahmad Khan, who had set fire to his ground-floor shop using an elaborate system of petrol containers and wicks in a bid to secure a large insurance payout and avoid having to meet lease payments.
Three people – Bianka O’Brien, her baby Jude, and their neighbour Chris Noble – were killed when an explosion and flames tore through the shop, which was below their homes on Darling Street, Rozelle, in the early hours of 4 September 2014.
A forlorn looking Khan closed his eyes as he was ordered to stand ahead of being sentenced, with many in the packed courtroom gasping as Fullerton imposed the jail term.
“The offender’s motives in setting the fire were personal financial gain,” she said, adding that Khan was either arrogant, ignorant or both when he lit the blaze in the shop below what he knew were residences.
The inferno resulting from his attempt to pull an insurance scam was “offending of the most serious kind,” the court heard.
“There is no evidence of remorse or contrition,” she said.
Khan had set the fatal blaze in an attempt to secure a $225,000 insurance payout and owed $8,800 in rent and had an outstanding electricity bill of $3,345 at the time.
When he was found under rubble in the smouldering ruins of his shop, Khan told paramedics him he was “sorry”. He had also said “I didn’t mean it”.
But when later interviewed by police he said he had been tied up and robbed by three men as he was closing his store for the night.
Fullerton dismissed this a “fabrication”.
Khan was given a maximum 40 years in jail and his earliest possible release date is September 22, 2044.