The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire John Robins joined members of a Huddersfield family who lost eight loved ones in an arson attack on their home at a memorial event to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. 

Members of the Chishti family gathered with others at a memorial statue at St John’s Church in Birkby for a special service to celebrate and cherish the lives of those who were lost.

The 20th anniversary event saw relatives from far and wide come together and listen to tributes to those who died following the attack at the family home in Osbourne Road, Birkby, on May 12 2002. 

The victims of the fire were Zaib-Un-Nisa, 54, Nafeesa Aziz, 35, Muhammed Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, Tayyaba Batool, 13, Rabina Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, five, two-year-old Aneesa Zawaz and Najeebah Nawaz, aged just six months. 

Their murder prompted the largest multiple murder inquiry in the history of West Yorkshire Police and the subsequent arrest and conviction of several men for murder and manslaughter.

Three of them were convicted and jailed in July 2003, with one found guilty of eight murder offences and the other two of manslaughter.

Shahid Mohammed, who had fled to Pakistan after his arrest, was brought back to the UK in 2018 following years of delicate work by West Yorkshire Police, the National Crime Agency, the British High Commission in Islamabad, the Crown Prosecution Service and local authorities in Pakistan.

He was subsequently jailed in 2019 and had his sentence increased to 27 years in 2020.

Speaking on behalf of the force, Chief Constable Robins said: “I have been proud to attend this service to pay our respects to those who lost their lives in an appalling and truly terrible crime.

“The dignity, courage and grace shown by the Chishti family never faltered during our investigation, including the many years it took to locate and bring back Shahid Mohammed to answer for what he had done.

“I know this was a criminal investigation that involved many different officers, and many of them became deeply involved. I pay tribute to the determination and tenacity of all the officers and staff involved in the investigation to secure justice for the Chishti family.  

“My thoughts remain with the Chishti family and I want to thank them for the opportunity to attend this very poignant event.”