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Ethiopia: Evil dad who smothered children in petrol-soaked rag then tried to blow up family home jailed for life.

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An evil dad who murdered his two children and tried to blow up his wife was jailed for life yesterday.

Endris Mohammed, 47, smothered his eight-year-old son Saros and daughter Leanor, six, with a petrol-soaked rag as they slept.

He then tried to cause a gas explosion in the family home that would have killed wife Penil Teklehaimanot, 37.

Mohammed stripped a cooker away from a kitchen unit and then punctured a pipe behind it to cause a gas leak at 3.30am on October 28 last year.

The Ethiopian asylum seeker started a small fire at the front door of the family home in Holland Road, Hamstead, Birmingham, hoping to trigger an explosion.

But Penil was woken up by the smoke alarm and managed to put out the fire with her bare feet and hands.

The children were dragged out of the house and Saros was rushed to Sandwell Hospital while Leanor was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Despite the desperate attempts by doctors, both children were pronounced dead within a minute of each other.

When he realised his plot to blow up the house had failed Mohammed drove 40 miles in his Uber taxi before setting fire the cab in a desperate attempt to kill himself.

Passersby spotted the flaming car at 4am in Butterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs., and he was left with severe burns to his head and face.

Mohammed admitted he unlawfully killed his children – claiming he was not in his right mind because of money worries – but denied two counts of murder and one of attempted murder.

On Friday, a jury at Birmingham Crown Court convicted him on all three counts after just 30 minutes of deliberation.

Yesterday Mohammed, whose burned and disfigured face is revealed in his police mug shot, was jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 33 years.

Judge Justice Andrew Gilbart said: “This country has a long proud history of welcoming those from abroad who flee from persecution.

“Both of you (Mohammed and his wife) had done so, and established your lives here in Birmingham, along with your two children.

“However that secure and apparently happy family life was destroyed by you.”

“That safe haven she shared with you and her children was destroyed by you in the most appalling manner imaginable, for this was a terrible criminal enterprise on your part, designed to kill all three of your family, partner and children, as they slept.

“Your partner has now lost her whole family and her home at one fell swoop.

“She gave evidence and has conducted herself in this trial with dignity and restraint, and in her evidence she was generous enough to speak of your good qualities as a father and partner.

“Her victim impact statement speaks of the fine qualities of these two happy, cheerful, engaging and rewarding children of whom any parent could be justly proud.

“Instead of their growing into adulthood, and their talents and qualities being allowed to flourish, you have deliberately snuffed out their young lives.”

“Their mother escaped death, but she must endure that tragic loss as she rebuilds her life.

“What makes that all the more poignant is that they loved you, as did your partner.

“Your children looked to you for guidance, protection and love.

“They trusted you implicitly and were enjoying your company even on the night of their murder.

“You repaid their trust in you by killing them.”

In a victim impact statement read out in court, his wife Penil said: “Losing Saros and Leanor left a gap in my life that will never be filled.”

“It is an indescribable pain to lose lives, ones in such a brutal manner – there is no bigger pain in this world than this experience.

“There are so many feelings: despair, anger, sorrow, confusion and so many questions still about why this happened.

“Nobody thinks they will say goodbye to a youngster.

“They seem too full of life and all the promise of things to come, their futures stretched out before them.”

During the two-week trial the court heard Endris arrived in the UK from Ethiopia as an asylum seeker in 2006.

He got together with Penil, a fellow asylum seeker, but they split up when she suspected him of cheating on her before they got back together and went on to have two children.

He worked as taxi driver but found himself in financial difficulty after having to pay £250 a week to rent the car from Enterprise.

The day before the murders, he was captured on CCTV buying three litres of petrol in a black fuel container from an Esso garage.

On the night of the killings, Mohammed calmly played Xbox with son Saros while Leanor slept on the sofa and his wife went to bed upstairs.

After the blaze, fire investigators found traces of petrol in the kitchen, lounge and hall area of the family home.

Timothy Raggatt QC, defending, said: “Here is a man of (previous) good character, a devoted husband who has done something unspeakable.

“He is at a loss to understand it himself.”

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