Murder detectives reopen blaze investigation

Detectives today announced they have reopened a six-year-old murder investigation into a house fire which killed a mother and her teenage daughter in a seaside town.

Sally-Ann Baxter-Smith, 38, and her 14-year-old daughter Lois died from smoke inhalation after fire tore through their mid-terraced house in Beach Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex.



Two other children, a boy and a girl, escaped from the building without serious injury via an upstairs window in the early hours of September 6, 2003.



An investigation by police and the fire brigade failed to determine a cause for the fierce blaze, prompting detectives from Sussex Police to launch a murder inquiry.



A man from Eastbourne who was arrested on suspicion of murder at the time was later released without charge.



Today the force's major crime branch announced it has reopened the case and a reconstruction will feature on the BBC's Crimewatch programme on September 29.



Detective Chief Inspector Trevor Bowles, leading the new inquiry, said: "Our determination to establish the truth behind the awful and tragic events of September 6, 2003 remains resolute.



"The person responsible for this hideous act has not been brought to justice yet, but I feel certain that with the assistance of the BBC, and their proven track record of appealing to the wider audience, we will be able to find justice for Sally-Ann and Lois.



"Loyalties change with time, and I appeal to anyone who knows who committed this dreadful crime, and why, to come forward and speak with us. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."



In a tribute released at the time, the victims' family said they were "two wonderful people".



Their statement said: "Sally-Ann was one of the most warm and intelligent people you could ever wish to meet. She would help anyone and adored her four children.



"Lois, though very young, had all the qualities to become a strong, young woman. She had much love to give and had a heart of gold. Their loss is devastating to the whole family and all our friends."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn