Carl Mills jailed for 30 years for torching teenage girlfriend's Cwmbran home and burning family of three to death

 

A jealous alcoholic who torched his teenage girlfriend's home, burning a family of three to death, has been jailed for a mimimum of 30 years after being found guilty of triple murder.

Carl Mills, 28, bombarded his partner with threatening texts and, convinced she was inside with another man, warned: "I will burn your house down."

Within hours grandmother Kim Buckley, 46, her daughter Kayleigh, 17, and granddaughter Kimberley, six months, died in the inferno.

The blaze ripped through the family home in Coed Eva, Cwmbran, south Wales, in the early hours of September 18, last year.

Thick smoke and flames quickly spread from the main porch to the stairs, cutting off all escape routes.

Frantic neighbours watched in despair as teenager Kayleigh was seen trapped at an upstairs window screaming for help.

Baby Kimberley, born 13 weeks premature, was at home in the property for the first time after being discharged from hospital that day.

Homeless Mills, the baby's father, was living in a tent in the front garden but had been banned from seeing Kimberley unsupervised.

Mills stood unemotional and apparently uninterested as the jury at Newport Crown Court delivered three unanimous guilty verdicts.

He then sat and listened to a family victim impact statement read out to the court by prosecutor Gregory Bull QC.

Trial judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams then imposed a 30 year minimum tariff on Mills, adding: "There is no saying whether you will ever be released."

Mills sat leaning on his arm as the judge made his comments and did not bother to look up.

Family and friends then burst into applause as Mills was taken away. The judge commended them for the "great dignity" with which they had behaved throughout.

A statement issued on behalf of the family by Gwent Police said: "Today we feel justice has been served.

"Carl Mills starts a life sentence for three murders but for us, the family and friends of Kim, Kayleigh and Kimberley, our life sentence started on the 18th of September last year when three beautiful innocent people were torn from our lives.

"Our lives are never going to be the same again but we ask to be left in peace to come to terms with our losses.

"We would also like thank the police, CPS, fire service and everyone who helped bring this case to court and convict Carl Mills."

Nicola Rees, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wales, said: "Carl Mills was responsible for starting a devastating fire that had distressing and tragic consequences.

"He did so knowing full well who was in the house at the time - and the evidence of his jealous and controlling nature makes it all too clear what his intentions were.

"Once the fire had taken hold, neighbours and friends of Kim, Kayleigh and Kimberley Buckley did whatever they could to try and assist at the scene.

"In contrast, Mills himself displayed a callous, almost casual disregard for the wellbeing of those trapped inside the house. His suspicious behaviour at the scene led Gwent Police to quickly apprehend him and their subsequent thorough investigation meant that we were able to build a very strong prosecution case.

"Despite his unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions, today Mills has been made to face up to what he did. But whilst we may welcome today's verdict, we have to acknowledge that it does not and cannot bring back Kim, Kayleigh or Kimberley. Nor does it take away the hurt and suffering of those close to them. Our thoughts are with them."

Detective Superintendent Peter Jones, who led the investigation said: "I would like to thank the family of Kim, Kayleigh and Kimberley for the patience and dignity they have shown throughout the investigation and subsequent court case at what has been a devastating time for them. Our thoughts remain with them and our specialist officers continue to offer support.

"I would also like to thank the wider community of Coed Eva who have supported both the family and the police investigation throughout. I have no doubt the impact of this tragedy will continue to be felt widely amongst all of those living in the area.

"The investigation team worked tirelessly to bring all of the incriminating evidence to court and today we have seen Carl Mills brought to justice for the horrific crimes he committed."

The judge told Mills that life sentences were mandatory for each guilty verdict, adding: "This is not an occasion for prolonged sentencing remarks."

He told him that he had set fire to the three bedroom home in Tillsland, Coed Eva, on September 18, "knowing that Kim, Kayleigh and baby Kimberley would be upstairs.

"You must have known that once the fire had taken hold that there would be virtually no chance of escape.

The judge spoke of previous tragedies the family had suffered - the death of two of mother Kim's four children early in life.

"Your crimes have devastated this family and you have shown no remorse in my opinion," he told Mills.

He added that Mills had spent his time trying to avoid responsibility for what he had done.

"Conducting your defence in such a way as to suggest that Kayleigh had started the fire herself (with a discarded cigarette) - that in my judgment was despicable."

Earlier, Mr Bull read out a victim impact statement from Gwyneth Swain, the mother of Kim Buckley.

She said the three fire victims were known among family and friends as "The Special Ks".

She described her daughter as more like a "best friend" than a daughter.

"We were so close. She was so special to me. There is a hole in my life - I am so lost without her."

The statement goes on: "When I was ill and had hospital appointments, Kim was always by my side.

"Now she is not there to be with me, I can ask my stepdaughters and friends, but it is not the same. Kim and I had been through so much together.

"She is no longer there. Some days the hurt and pain get too much and I think that I cannot carry on, but I know I must, especially for Shaun."

She said her daughter's only surviving child had struggled to come to terms with the tragedy and could not believe they were dead.

The remains of the badly fire-damaged family home in Cwmbran has since been demolished, but until it was he visited it regularly.

The statement read out by Mr Bull also paid tribute to Kayleigh: "She was a shy girl, very close to her mother. She loved her family and we all loved her."

Ms Swain also spoke of the family's future hopes for Kimberley who, despite being born deaf and blind, they had all been rallying round to support.

"As a result of the events of 18th September (2012) that has all been snatched from us."

She concluded: "The heart has been ripped out of our family, a heart that can never be replaced. "

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