Two brothers who torched their family shop in a failed insurance scam have been jailed for a total of four years.
Sahail and Kasim Ahmed were involved in setting fire to the premises in Glasgow’s Gallowgate on May 16, 2020, – a crime branded “utterly idiotic” by prosecutors.
Jurors heard the International Mobile Phone Centre had been hit financially by the Covid lockdown that year.
Porsche-driving Sahail, 38, and his 34-year-old sibling Kasim denied deliberately starting a blaze in a bid to then claim insurance cash.
But Kasim helped get them caught after being captured on CCTV filling a petrol can at local garage 30 minutes before the fire.
The duo were found guilty of a charge of being part of a fraudulent scheme following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
The pair were sentenced to two years each by Judge Douglas Brown.
The business – which sold phone as well as e-cigarettes – had been in the family for around 20 years.
Their father was said to have run the shop.
However, when he left for Pakistan in 2020, the court heard Kasim took over with Sahail described as the owner.
The plan apparently was for Kasim to hand over £300 per week takings to their mother to help support her.
But, Sahail, of Nitshill, Glasgow, told the trial: “There was a national lockdown (in March 2020), so the shop should not have been trading.
“Things were quite tough and he (Kasim) had to give my mum money.”
Amid the financial struggles, the pair hatched a plan to get their hands on cash.
In her speech to jurors, prosecutor Lindsey Dalziel explained: “With little thought of the consequences or attention to detail, they moved items out of the shop into cars, bought petrol, spread it and lit it.
“It was not the best executed plan – in fact, it could properly be categorised as utterly idiotic.”
Miss Dalziel said the motive was simply “for money”.
CCTV played a crucial role in snaring the Ahmeds.
Kasim, of the city’s Gorbals, was clocked filling a fuel can at an Asda petrol station in Glasgow’s Parkhead – just a short distance away from the shop.
He later claimed it was diesel for another car he had – although did not know the registration.
The pair – along with a third brother Adum, 28 – were all captured at the shop that afternoon.
As the blaze took hold, residents who lived above were forced to flee their homes.
Fire crews were quickly on the scene and bomb disposal were also called out amid fears of explosives in the shop. They were later discovered to be fireworks.
Sahail was covered meantime for loss of rental income and also had business insurance.
He went on to speak to an employee of Welsh and White insurance brokers to start a claim – although initially gave the impression he had not been at the shop that day.
However, investigators later concluded the blaze was deliberate with “multiple seats of fire” in the shop as well as the presence of petrol.
It led to the arrest of the brothers. Sahail gave evidence during the trial.
He denied knowing of any plan to deliberately torch the business or that there was anything “untoward”.
Describing being at the shop, he told the trial: “There was a loud bang and then the door came off its hinges.”
His lawyer Joseph Barr asked at one stage: “Did you have any idea what caused what happened?”
He replied: “No.”
Sahail said he had told Kasim earlier that day that he had to “cough up” with cash to their mother, but that he “did not have the money”.
He added: “The mood at the meeting was quite tense. Myself and Adum were saying you have to pay, you have the shop.”
Mr Barr told the sentencing that his client maintains his innocence and is “bewildered” that he was convicted.
Gordon Jackson KC, defending Kasim Ahmed, stated that he lost his job as a result of the case.