Kneeling before a field of flowers in a flannelette shirt and posing with his smiling wife in his Facebook pictures, Adeel Khan looks like any ordinary, middle-aged, small business owner.
But as media reports today reveal, police will allege the 44-year-old Sydney convenience store owner is responsible for a dark arson plan that brutally snatched the lives of three of his neighbours — all as part of an alleged insurance scam.
Khan was charged with three counts of murder yesterday morning, and police will allege he deliberately planned the explosion that caused his Rozelle store to catch fire on 4 September, according to The Daily Mail. The fire claimed the lives of 31-year-old Bianka O’Brien, her one-year-old son Jude O’Brien, and their 27-year-old neighbour Chris Noble.
Police allege Khan owed $8000 in rent, that AGL had threatened to cut off electricity over unpaid bills ,and that the suspect deliberately planned the explosion — with a set-up involving 39 litres of fuel, wicks, a rechargeable battery and lengths of material– to collect an insurance payout worth $225,000, News Corp reports.
Police also allege Khan knew his neighbours were asleep in the building, and that he was found with a carbon-fibre breathing mask in his trouser pocket.
The suspect, who himself sustained a fractured pelvis and cuts in the blast and was pulled from rubble at the scene, was charged yesterday morning with 25 offences including murder at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney’s Camperdown.
Last night, he was refused bail by a magistrate at a bedsite court hearing.
Court papers allege Khan demonstrated a “disregard for human life”.
“It (is) the belief of police that the accused intentionally set about to destroy his business by fire,” the statement of facts says, according to The Daily Mail.
“The accused acted to cause the explosion and subsequent fire during early hours of the morning when it could only be expected that the above residents would be at home and at their most vulnerable whilst asleep,” according to The Daily Mail.
“The very act of setting even a small fire in the circumstances demonstrated the accused disregard for human life.”
Khan is due to appear in Sydney’s Central Local Court on October 21.