A judge suggested in court that a husband was involved in a conspiracy which caused the death of his wife, even though he was acquitted.
Nasrin Akhtar died of smoke inhalation after firefighters found her huddled with her two daughters in the downstairs bathroom of their Coventry home after the arson attack in January 2001.
Nicholas Dean QC, prosecuting, alleged at Warwick Crown Court yesterday that the arson had been planned as an insurance scam by her husband, Mohammed Zareen, after an earlier claim was turned down, and that he had recruited Mohammed Masrat Khan. Basharat Hussain had picked Masrat up and ferried him to and from the scene, the court was told.
At the time, Zareen was in Pakistan, giving him an alibi, and it had been planned that the attack on the house, in Queen Mary's Road, Foleshill, would be at a time when no one was at home.
But, the jury heard, Mrs Akhtar was disturbed by the noise of the door being forced open and came downstairs as Khan was spreading petrol over the floors.
She ran back upstairs for the children, but Khan set light to the petrol anyway, although Judge Marten Coates said he accepted Hussain would not have seen her.
Hussain (49), of Raphael Close, Coventry, was jailed yesterday for ten years after being convicted of conspiring to commit arson being reckless whether life was endangered.
Khan (26), of Churchill Avenue, Coventry, had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy and manslaughter and will be sentenced at a later hearing. Mr Zareen, aged 49, of Victory Road, Foleshill, and Raja Muntaz Khan, 54, of Caldecote Road, Radford, Coventry, were formally acquitted last month.
Before sentencing Basharat Hussain, Judge Coates commented: "I don't think the conspiracy makes any sense without Mr Zareen being involved. I know there is not the evidence against him, but I cannot see how we can interpret what went on without him being there (in the conspiracy) as well."