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Three appear in court over fatal house fire in Chatham

Melissa Crook, 20, and her 15-month-old son Noah.
Melissa Crook, 20, and her 15-month-old son Noah.

Melissa Crook and her baby Noah died in a house fire in September

by Julia Roberts

Two men and a woman have appeared in court accused of the triple murders of a young Chatham mum, her 15-month-old son and her father in a blaze at their home.

Melissa Muhammadi, who was also known as Melissa Crook, and her son, Noah, were killed when a fire broke out in the early hours of September 10 at the three-bedroomed terrace property in Chatham Hill.

Melissa's father, Mark, 49, suffered serious burns in the fire and died six days later. Her mother, Amanda, 49, was also treated for burns, while her brother, Bohdan, 21, suffered fractures.

Today, Melissa's estranged husband Danai Muhammadi, a 24-year-old car salesman from Britannia Street, Coventry, pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder and two of attempted murder.

Also in the dock with him at Maidstone Crown Court were his girlfriend at the time of the fire, 21-year-old Emma Smith, and 35-year-old Farhad Mahmud, of Kensington House, Fernhill Road, Maidstone.

They also denied three charges of murder and two of attempted murder.

Smith, of Barley Lea, Stoke Aldermore, Coventry, also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life between September 1 and 11.

All three spoke only to confirm their names during the plea and case management hearing. Muhammadi was assisted by a Kurdish interpreter.

A trial date has already been fixed to start on April 18 and is expected to last at least four weeks.

Muhammadi, Mahmud and Smith were remanded in custody by Judge Jeremy Carey and a pre-trial hearing will be held on March 23.

Following the blaze, hundreds of floral tributes were left outside the family home and messages were posted online.

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