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Father and sons deny murder over flat fire that killed two teenagers and baby

Published 12/01/2016

Emergency services at the scene of the blaze
Emergency services at the scene of the blaze

A flat fire which killed two teenagers and a six-month-old baby was started deliberately as an act of revenge following a row over a stolen moped, a court has heard.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that Edward Green, 17, Amy Smith, also 17, and her baby daughter Ruby-Grace Gaunt died after being overcome by smoke which filled a stairway offering their only means of escape.

Prosecutors allege the blaze in North Street, Langley Mill, Derbyshire, was "planned and set" by Peter Eyre and his sons Simon and Anthony Eyre in the early hours of June 21 last year.

Peter Eyre, 44, Simon Eyre, 24, and 22-year-old Anthony Eyre, all deny three counts of murder.

Opening the Crown's case against the family members at the start of a four-week trial, prosecution QC James House told jurors that Ruby-Grace's father, 18-year-old Shaun Gaunt, and another teenager who survived the fire were also inside the flat.

Although Mr Gaunt and the other survivor escaped with the help of neighbours using ladders, Miss Smith and her daughter succumbed to smoke on a landing, while Mr Green was found dead near the front door.

Alleging that the three accused drove to Langley Mill in a Skoda car, Mr House said of the blaze: "It was set using petrol which had been poured in the area immediately outside the front door.

"That front door was the only means of entry and exit to the flat on the second and third floor.

"The prosecution say that the fire was set by these three defendants. It was done as an act of revenge for an incident that had occurred outside the home of Peter and Anthony a few hours earlier."

A jury of six women and six men was told that the incident involved Mr Gaunt, who had been told by a friend that a third son of Peter Eyre had been involved in the theft of his moped.

"It was the theft of that moped that was to be the catalyst for the tragic events that followed. Rumours abounded as to whom was responsible for stealing it," Mr House told the court.

Peter, Simon and Anthony Eyre - all dressed in casual clothing - listened from the dock as Mr House gave the jury details of a dispute outside their family home in Central Avenue, Sandiacre.

During the confrontation at about 1.30am on June 21, the court heard, Peter Eyre is alleged to to have threatened Mr Gaunt with a hammer, telling him to get off his garden.

Damage was then caused to the windscreen of Peter Eyre's van and Mr Gaunt was allegedly seen brandishing a broken bottle as a weapon.

Jurors were told that Anthony Eyre has admitted three counts of manslaughter in relation to the blaze, having conceded that he set fire to a car parked outside the flat without any intention to kill or cause serious harm.

The trial is expected to last for up to four weeks.

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From Belfast Telegraph