NSW shopkeeper Adeel Ahmad Khan sentenced to 40 years jail over Rozelle convenience store fire deaths

Ben Brennan and agencies

A Sydney shopkeeper who lit a blaze which triggered a massive explosion, killing three people including a baby, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison with a non-parole period of 30 years.

In sentencing former Rozelle convenience store owner Adeel Ahmad Khan, 46, on Friday, the judge said the community expected a severe penalty to reflect the loss of three lives.

The court heard that an elaborate system of petrol containers and wicks were used in the September 4, 2014 blaze. Photo: 7 News

She said Khan had carefully planned the blaze with a large amount of petrol deposited in reservoirs through the shop in such a way as to trigger a series of fires.

He then used a cigarette lighter to ignite the fuel.

The judge said jurors had agreed Khan had deliberately started the fire for financial gain as his business struggled.

When emergency services arrived, 'all that you could see of the accused was his hand, one hand, poking up out of the rubble.' Photo: 7 News

During the trial, the court heard Khan had plotted the blaze in an attempt to cash in an insurance policy, which he had steadily increased in the lead up to the fatal crime.

The trial heard Khan was $373,000 in debt, behind on his rent and at risk of having his power cut off.

The court heard Khan increased his insurance coverage from $170,000 to about $225,000 in September 2014.

The judge said Khan had attempted to avoid criminal penalties after a large explosion and fire killed the three victims.

There was no evidence of remorse of contrition that could mitigate the sentence, a packed court room in Sydney was told.

The judge rejected Khan's claims to paramedics at the scene that he had not intended to start the fire.

His actions were described as the 'gravest of criminal conduct'.

Chris Noble was a keen rugby player and died in the 2014 blaze after sending his mother a text message at 4.08am saying

The judge said Khan had left a car ready, with keys in the ignition in preparation for a quick escape, indicating he had anticipated a large explosion or fire would quickly take hold.

Meanwhile, Bianka O'Brien was trapped in a blaze, forced to realise it would kill her and her 11-month-old son Jude.

Khan was found guilty in June of their manslaughter.

Similarly, Chris Noble was also trapped by the fire with no hope of escape. Khan was found guilty of his murder.