Blaze deaths prompt arson investigation

Detectives were investigating today whether a blaze that killed a mother and her "beautiful" three-year-old girl was started deliberately.



The body of Tara-Jayne Mallon, believed to be in her 30s, and her daughter Chloe were found in the second-floor flat in Earlsfield, south-west London, on Friday night.

Police said the flat was hit by a blaze this time last year, and would not comment on a claim that a bed had been put across the door of the room where the pair died.

Asked whether he believed the cause of the blaze was suspicious, Detective Superintendent Michael McNally, based at Wandsworth, said: "That's not something that I'm going to discuss now.

"We are currently working with the fire investigation unit to try to establish how the fire started."

Nobody has been arrested, he added, and officers are waiting on the results of a post-mortem examination into the two deaths.

Neighbours said the dead girl's partner was named Lee.

A 25-year-old neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she saw him return to the flat in Willow Tree Close in his four-wheel drive Mercedes several hours after the blaze.

She said: "Police officers greeted him and took his keys out of the car. I was standing outside and saw him bend over as the policeman spoke to him.

"I was told that he was taken away by police later."

Emergency services were only made aware of the fire after a woman living below Ms Mallon saw a "huge red glow" out her window, having earlier heard shouting, a 32-year-old resident who lived nearby added.

"It was a very volatile relationship," she said.

"The mother and her partner have been living there for at least three years and they argued a lot."

Patricia Robson, a resident in her 60s who lives opposite, said of the daughter: "She was a beautiful little blonde girl. It is a tragedy."