Taxi driver found guilty of murdering his two children

David Bell

A father who killed his two young children with a petrol-soaked cloth and then tried to kill his wife in a gas explosion has been found guilty of murder.

Jurors heard taxi driver Endris Mohammed attempted to murder his partner, Penil Teklehaimanot, by tampering with a gas pipe and setting fire to the family home in Hamstead, Birmingham.

Mohammed had denied the murders of eight-year-old Saros Endris and his sister Leanor, six, claiming diminished responsibility allegedly caused by a depressive disorder.

Eight-year-old Saros Endris and Leanor, aged six
Eight-year-old Saros Endris and Leanor, aged six

A two-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court was told Mohammed - who was found guilty of two counts of murder and one of attempted murder - appeared normal in the run-up to the deaths.

Mohammed, who will be sentenced on Monday, pursed his lips but showed no other sign of emotion as he was found guilty just 30 minutes after the jury retired.

Mohammed, who suffered burns to his head after setting the passenger side of his cab alight on the night of the killings, admitted smothering his children.

He did not give evidence during his defence case but argued through his legal team that he was depressed about his future amid money worries.

Police at the scene in Holland Road, Hamstead, Birmingham
Police at the scene in Holland Road, Hamstead, Birmingham

The 47-year-old fled in his Uber cab after killing Saros and Leanor at their home in Holland Road in the early hours of October 28 last year, having bought a fuel can and three litres of petrol the previous day.

Mohammed met his wife in 2006 in Kent, after they came to Britain from East Africa as asylum seekers.

Giving evidence during the trial, Mrs Teklehaimanot said Mohammed was "a gentle, quiet man" who had not seemed angry or irritable in the months before her children were killed.

Mrs Teklehaimanot was sleeping upstairs when Mohammed smothered Saros and Leanor during a half-term "sleepover" in the lounge.

In her evidence to the jury, Mrs Teklehaimanot, who was woken by a smoke alarm, told how she initially thought her children were asleep when she was unable to wake them.

The court heard Mohammed claimed he had decided to end his own life because his "hopes for a good life in England" had failed, but police inquiries showed the family could live off his wife's earnings as a care worker.