Hospital sentence for fantasist who killed family in fire

Wednesday 17 May 2000 00:00

An unemployed disc-jockey was ordered to be detained in a secure hospital without limit of time yesterday for killing seven people, including four generations of a family, in a fire.

Richard Fielding, 21, of Walthamstow, east London, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the Day family on the basis of diminishedresponsibility.

The seven, whose ages ranged from two to 76, died from smoke inhalation after Fielding poured petrol through the letter box of the family home in Bellamy Road, Chingford, Essex, in March last year.

His pleas of not guilty to murder were accepted by the prosecution at the Old Bailey.

The Recorder of London, Judge Michael Hyam, said he was satisfied that Fielding was mentally ill and ordered him to be detained in Rampton high-security hospital without limit of time. But the decision was greeted with anger by family and friends of the victims.

Kellie Himpfen, 21, the mother of three children who perished in the fire, shouted "Evil bastard!" as Fielding was led away. He was also heckled from the public gallery. Outside court, Ms Himpfen said: "It just goes to show you can get away with murder."

Brian Day, 52, the only member of the Day family to escape the fire, said: "He is being given a manslaughter charge when he is a murderer. He murdered seven people. He can be back on the streets within a few years. If that's British justice there is something wrong."

But Judge Hyam told Fielding that psychiatrists agreed he was severely mentally ill. One doctor had said his prognosis was "appalling", with little chance of improvement.

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