A MAN who has admitted the manslaughter of a Blackburn couple killed in a house fire told the jury he believed the targeted property to be unoccupied.

Sadek Miah, 23, of Byng Road, Isle of Dogs, took to the witness stand yesterday as the third week of the murder trial got under way There was a twist at the start of proceedings, as Hisamuddin Ibrahim, 21, from Shelly Avenue, London, made a late decision not to take to the stand to give live evidence.

He is said by the Crown to have arranged the arson attack to avenge his family’s honour over his sister Hafija’s affair with Mo Ibrahim.

The prosecution allege the gang got the wrong house, killing innocent Abdullah and Ayesha Mohammed, who were trapped inside 175 London Road.

Sadek Miah told the jury he had known co-defendant Habib Iqbal, 25, from Strone Road, London, for eight years and ‘looked up to him as an older brother’.

He said he had known Mohammed Miah for four years, but had little time for socialising in between his full time studies on a computer networks degree and a part-time job at Tesco.

Preston Crown Court heard that one evening in the week before the Blackburn fire, which was started in the early hours of Wednesday, October 21, Iqbal had approached Sadek Miah and Mohammed Miah while they were sitting in Sadek’s car.

Andrew Menary QC, defending Sadek Miah asked his client what was discussed.

Miah said: “Habib asked me if I could do him a favour.

"He told me that his friend’s sister was being harassed by a certain individual and her marriage had broken down because of him.

“He told me he wanted to scare this individual by creating a small fire in the porch of a property that he owned in Blackburn.

"He told me that the property was unoccupied and the reason it was unoccupied was that it was going under refurbishment, being redecorated.”

Mr Menary asked: “Did Habib Iqbal tell you what he wanted you to do?”

Miah replied: “Yes, he wanted me to drive him up to Blackburn so he could create the fire.

"He told me it would take three to four hours.”

Mr Menary asked: “What was your response?”

Miah said: “I refused to take him. Clearly he wasn’t happy with the answer I gave him.

"He went on to say certain things which made me feel guilty in some ways.

“He put me in a position where I just couldn’t say no.”

All four defendants, Hisamuddin Ibrahim, 21, Sadek Miah, 23, Mohammed Miah, 19, and Habib Iqbal, 25, all from the East London area, deny the murder of Mr and Mrs Mohammed.

Sadek Miah has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of both.