Deluded fantasist killed four generations in revenge arson attack

A fantasist who blamed a schoolfriend for destroyinghis chances of becoming a famous disc jockey and male model yesterday admitted killing seven people in a revenge arson attack.

Richard Fielding, 21, of Walthamstow, east London, admitted pouring petrol through the letter-box of a house and setting it on fire. His friend, his friend's three young children, mother, grandmother and girlfriend died in the fire.

Fielding denied murder, but his plea of guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility was accepted at the Old Bailey yesterday. After his arrest, he told police the fire had been "like a game of knock down ginger with a bit more ginger".

Detectives struggled to find a motive for the attack, except that he blamed a former friend, Lee Day, for stopping him becoming as celebrity. Psychiatrist concluded that Fielding had a narcissistic personality and suffered from paranoid psychosis.

Fielding admitted killing Lee Day, 22; his children, twin girls, Maddison and Rhiannon, aged three, and son, Reece, aged two; his girlfriend, Yvonne Colverhouse, aged 17; his mother, Sandra Day, aged 50; and grandmother Kathleen Day, aged 76.

They died from smoke inhalation in the early hours of 6 March last year, after the three-storey family home inChingford, east London, was set alight. Lee and Sandra's bodies were found in a bedroom where they had gone in a vain attempt to rescue the children.

The only member of the family to escape the fire, Lee's father, Brian Day, 52, who was rescued by ladder before the windows of the house were blown out by an explosion, sat at the back of the court. He was joined by Kelly Himpfen, aged 21, the mother of the dead children. She had separated from Lee Day and the children were staying with him for the weekend.

Fielding filled a five-litre plastic canister at a petrol station and then cycled to the Days' house. A man at the garage asked him if his car had broken down, but did not take it seriously when Fielding replied: "No, I am going to do a house."

Most of the occupants of the house were sleeping as the fire took hold.

Lee Day was seen at a first-floor window but went to asecond-floor bedroom where he was found with his mother, slumped on the bed where his children were lying.

As the fire took hold, Ms Himpfen was alerted by friends and ran to the house in her dressing gown. She became so distraught that she had to be removed by ambulance.

Neighbours tried unsuccessfully to break down the back door and use a ladder to get the occupants out. They were driven back by the ferocity of the blaze. Brian Day suffered burnt hands as he was brought down a ladder from the first floor.

Fielding pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Brian Day, and the Recorder of London, Michael Hyam, ordered that the charge remain on file, not to be proceeded with.

After Fielding was arrested he denied the offences but later told police, in what he regarded as a confidential chat, that he had not intended to kill all of the people. Orlando Pownall, for the prosecution, told the court: "He said it was revenge. He felt bad. He said, 'If it had just been the kids, it would have been easier to say sorry'."

During their investigation Scotland Yard detectives discovered that Fielding, who had been at school with Mr Day, a plumber, blamed his friend for his lack of success in life. He was described as "living in a dream world" and became fixated with Mr Day.

In one incident that was to take on great significance for Fielding, the two friends, then aged about 14, were breaking into a school when Fielding cut his hand. He later blamed his friend for the injury, which he claimed had stopped him becoming a famous disc-jockey. In reality he was only a part-time DJ playing at small local functions.

In another incident, Fielding claimed that cocaine he obtained from Mr Day had damaged his nose and ruined his chance of becoming a model - again a complete fantasy. The court was told that Fielding has a history of abusing drugs including ecstasy, LSD, cannabis and glue.

Fielding, who is currently being treated at Rampton high- security hospital, claimed his friend had spread rumours that he was gay and had encouraged people to laugh at him.

On the night of the fire he argued with his mother and had been drinking. He later told police officers: "If my mother had given me the money I had asked for, for another drink, this might not have happened."

The hearing continues today.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in