Taxi driver who murdered pregnant girlfriend, 16, rejected for parole

EXCLUSIVE: Taxi driver jailed for life in 2001 for murdering his pregnant girlfriend, 16, her disabled sister, 17, and their mother, 49, by starting house fire has second parole bid rejected

  • Azhar Ali Mehmood, 47, was jailed for life 21 years ago for the killings in 2000
  • His girlfriend Lucy Lowe, 16, from Telford, first became pregnant at 14 years old
  • Lucy’s father escaped the fire unharmed and her daughter was also found safe
  • Mehmood will be eligible to apply for parole for a third time in June 2024 

A taxi driver who murdered his pregnant girlfriend, her partially disabled sister and their mother in a house fire will stay in jail after his second parole bid was rejected.

Azhar Ali Mehmood, now 47, was jailed for life 21 years ago for starting a house fire in Telford in August 2000.

It claimed the life of Lucy Lowe, who was 16, as well as her 17-year-old sister, and mother Eileen Linda Lowe, 49.

The Parole Board said it had denied the application based on the risk to the public.

Mehmood, who was 26 at the time of the murders, was also told that he must stay in a closed prison and cannot transfer to an open jail.

Azhar Ali Mehmood, now 47, was denied parole and a move to an open prison

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board refused the release of Azhar Mehmood following an oral hearing.

‘Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

‘A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

‘Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead up to an oral hearing.

‘Evidence from witnesses such as probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements may be given at the hearing.

‘It is standard for the prisoner and witnesses to be questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more. Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.’

‘Under current legislation he will be eligible for a further review in due course. The date of the next review will be set by the Ministry of Justice.’

Lucy was just 14 when she fell pregnant with her daughter Tasnim. She was also pregnant when she died aged 16

Lucy, her sister and her mother died after Mehmood set fire to the family home, trapping them upstairs

Mehmood had a parole hearing in June last year and his appeal was rejected in November, MailOnline can reveal.

Mehmood was jailed for life at Stafford Crown Court in October 2001 after he was convicted of the triple murders.

All three victims died in the blaze in Halifax Drive, Leegomery, Shropshire, in August 2000 after Mehmood used petrol to spark an inferno.

He was also convicted of the attempted murder of his girlfriend’s father, George Lowe, then 56, who escaped the fire by climbing out of a bedroom window.

Mehmood’s baby daughter Tasnim was unhurt and was found on the patio wrapped in blankets.

The court heard Mehmood tried to paint a ‘false picture’ to police of what happened, claiming he was woken by the smoke alarm and escaped through a window.

But his taxi was spotted at a nearby petrol station moments before the blaze started and neighbours spotted him standing outside the property.

Traces of petrol were discovered in the living room and kitchen of the Lowes’ home which made the fire take hold quickly, trapping the teenagers and their mother upstairs.

Mehmood, who maintained his innocence, appealed his conviction in August 2002. It was rejected. He tried again in 2014, claiming to have been rehabilitated. It was turned down again.

The judges cited his lack of acknowledgement for his actions and said that his minimum sentence would have been 30 years and not 18 under new laws.

In 2018, Tasnim, then aged 20, made a three-part documentary for BBC Three investigating her family’s murders and any links to sexual exploitation.

During filming, the police handed over her mother’s diaries, which had survived the fire.

In them, she wrote about being taken to perform sexual acts on multiple older men.

Lucy was 14 when she fell pregnant with Tasnim. She was pregnant again when she died aged 16.

Tasnim said in 2018: ‘I think it’s very important that my dad should be prosecuted for all his crimes. Police knew about the sex crimes but didn’t do anything about it.

‘He’s only been charged with murder because they wanted to convict him of the most serious crime.

‘I asked the police, “Now that we know everything we know, is this going to be changing at all?” And they said no.

‘We need to acknowledge the problem and they’re not doing that.

‘He should be on the sex offenders list for the safety of others. I’m living proof.

‘It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact abuse is why I exist. I was born out of the fact my dad raped my mum.’

Tasnim has also read harrowing court transcripts from the murder trial, which showed Lucy lived in fear of Mehmood’s repeated abuse.

Just a week before the fire, he forced himself on Lucy at the family home and she screamed for help.

Her dad broke the door down and a neighbour chased Mehmood out. But no one alerted the authorities.

In an emotional exchange, shown in the documentary, Tasnim asks her grandad why he didn’t call the police.

George tells her: ‘I heard somebody shout, ‘Rape! Rape! Rape!’

‘So I went running in, kicked the door down, and next thing you know he was running down the stairs.

‘I blame myself for not doing more.’

Tasnim said: ‘I just think it’s sad because she was suffering. I think she was ignored and she wasn’t listened to.

‘If people had intervened when they heard about the rape allegation, he could have been in prison. Nobody listened and she was murdered.’

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Harding, who investigated the murder when it happened, wrote in March 2018: ‘Although she had a child with him under 16, they were together for years before he set the house alight. He was convicted of murder and there is nothing further to review.’

West Mercia police set up Operation Chalice to investigate allegations that young girls in Telford and the local area were being targeted by gangs of men.

Seven Telford men were jailed in 2013 as a result of Operation Chalice. Police said that up to 100 girls had been targeted, but newspaper investigations claimed more than 1,000 had been abused.

Speaking before the first parole appeal was rejected, Tasnim said: ‘I hope the Parole Board does what’s best for my family. When you consider the murders and the sex crimes, I don’t think 18 years is long enough.

‘I hope whatever the outcome is, myself and my grandad are happy and feel safe.’

Mehmood is able to apply for parole again in June 2024.

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