Family pays tribute to their ‘inspirational young lady’
Three men are found guilty of Leah’s murder
THE family of Loughborough student Leah Reek, who was killed in an explosion in Leicester, have paid tribute to her memory following the conviction of three men for her murder.
Shopkeeper Aram Kurd conspired with associates Arkan Ali and Hawkar Hassan to set fire to the Zabka supermarket in Leicester’s Hinckley Road, using 60 litres of petrol mixed with other flammable liquids they had sprayed all over the basement.
They hoped to claim up to £300,000 on an overinflated insurance policy. In the explosion and fire which followed, five people died, four of whom were in the flat above the supermarket on the evening of Sunday, February 25, 2018, when the building exploded.
All three men were found guilty by a jury at Leicester Crown Court of murdering Mary Ragoobeer, her sons Shane and Sean, and Shane’s girlfriend Leah Reek in the blaze and explosion.
Kurd, 34, of Hillary Place, Braunstone, Ali, 38, of Drake Close, Oldham, and Hassan, 33, of Eld Road, Coventry, were also found guilty of murdering fellow plotter and Ali’s girlfriend Viktorija Ijevleva, 22, who had been part of the conspiracy to destroy the building and who was in the supermarket at the time.
All three were also convicted of conspiring together, and with Ijevleva, to commit insurance fraud, in Hassan’s case by a majority verdict.
They will be sentenced on January 18.
Leah was studying health and social care at Loughborough College. Her parents, Jo and John, and sister Molly, said: “Where do we begin?
“We have been asked to try and explain the impact on our lives after losing Leah in such horrific circumstances. The light went out of our world on that terrible night, no parent should ever have to arrange a funeral for their child. It is so difficult to put into words how much we miss Leah. She was an amazing inspirational young lady who had only turned 18 last July. She was just starting out on her life adventure.
“In her 18 too short but wonderful years, she made a lasting impression on everyone lucky enough to know her. She was beautiful inside and out and she truly shone when she entered a room.
“She was never aware of the impact she had on so many people just by smiling at them. We will always miss that smile, her laughter and those beautiful curls. She had such a mischievous sense of humour and could always find something to laugh about. Her happy outlook on life was contagious.
“She was so excited to be starting her university course in September after receiving an unconditional offer for Adult Nursing. She was proud and happy that she had found a vocation that suited her caring and compassionate ways. She volunteered at LOROS and was determined to become a palliative care nurse.
“We used to joke that we would have ‘Leah’ lessons upon her return from the hospice which inspired her so much. She told us about how important it was to face death. Everybody dies she said, you just have to make it the best journey you can for the patients and families. She even tried to explain to us about grief, how the colour goes out of life for a while and eventually returns. Well, the colour and Leah’s bright light has certainly left our world.
“Leah was very aware of others and insisted on joining the family in giving blood as soon as she was able. She also carried an organ donation card. We were all so proud of our precious girl. She was such a kind girl who had a wide varied circle of friends. She was always ready to listen and give her very honest opinion - a trait which we so admired. She was always true to herself and was a great judge of character, even if it meant sometimes not going with the easy option. She had a strong sense of right and wrong and a knack of reaching out to people if she saw them struggling or alone. She was wise beyond her years and could talk to anyone, making them feel at ease and comfortable. She was a total one off who had charisma and an enthusiasm for life.
“We miss her terribly, every second of every day we carry the pain of losing Leah. She has left a Leah shaped hole in our hearts that nothing will ever fill. She was too special for anyone that didn’t know her to fully understand the impact her death has had on so many. We are broken. She simply stood out. We feel empty and desperately sad that we have been robbed of such a free spirit who loved wearing her leopard clothes. She was a typical teenager living and loving her life as she should have done.
“We know Leah worshipped Shane and they adored each other when they were taken from this world. We are so grateful to the Ragoobeer family for making Leah so welcome, she loved being there and knowing she was always happy there, gives us some comfort.
“Leah’s death has not just left us heartbroken, but it has had such a ripple effect on so many; friends, family and the Ragoobeers. Our village Asfordby and local town Melton Mowbray have given us such amazing support and shown such kindness in our dark time. We are truly grateful.
“Leah was a very rare find, a genuine diamond who shone so brightly and made such a difference in society. It makes us angry and breaks our heart that we will never get the chance to see Leah reach her true potential in life. We will never see her proudly graduate to become a nurse or follow her dreams, get married or have children. All of this has been taken away from us and Leah.
“We only have our precious happy memories which no one can ever take away from us. We feel truly blessed that Leah left us with an amazing legacy of love which we will treasure. We will try to make her proud until we meet with her again.
“Leah, we will always love you and the world was definitely a brighter, happier place with you in it. Love you forever, Mum, Dad, Mol and the family circle xxx.”
Leah Reek with her boyfriend Shane Ragoobeer, who both died in the explosion in Hinckley Road, Leicester, last year.