Birmingham fire attack victim suffered ‘unimaginable pain’, family says

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A 70-year-old man suffered “unimaginable pain” after he was set alight just yards from his house in an attack that has “torn our family apart”, his son reportedly said.

Mohammed Rayaz was set on fire as he walked home from Dudley Road Mosque in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham at about 7pm on Monday.

Mr Rayaz was retired and planned to spend his life “by praying and spending time with his grandchildren” – but his attacker “took that away from him and caused him lots of unimaginable pain”, his son said in a statement on behalf of their family, Sky News reported on Sunday night.

The family “is in a state of shock and trying to understand why someone would do this”, his son reportedly added.

A 28-year-old man has appeared in court charged with attempting to murder Mr Rayaz, and another elderly man in London who was also set alight after leaving a mosque.

Mohammed Abbkr, of Gillott Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, appeared at the city’s magistrates’ court on Thursday where he spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

Abbkr, who gave no indication of plea to either charge, was remanded in custody and his case was sent to Birmingham Crown Court for a first hearing there on April 20.

West Midlands Police has said he is alleged to have sprayed a substance at the two men and set it alight in separate incidents in Ealing, west London, on February 27 and in Birmingham on Monday.

Abbkr was arrested in the Dudley Road area on Tuesday on suspicion of the attempted murder of Mr Rayaz, who as of Thursday remained in hospital with severe injuries.

He was later arrested on suspicion of the same offence in relation to 82-year-old Hashi Odowa, who suffered severe burns to his face and arms near an Islamic centre in Ealing.

Mr Rayaz’s son said his “thoughts are also with the victim and family of the Ealing attack”, Sky News reported.

“I hope no one has to go through what our family is going through, as it has torn our family apart,” he added.

Officers are continuing to appeal for CCTV, doorbell footage or other video that could help the investigation.

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