A man and his two sons have been jailed for life for murdering a baby and two teenagers in a flat fire in Derbyshire.
🔴 Trio who killed two teens and a baby in fire refused right to appeal conviction 🔴
February 24, 2017
A father and two of his sons who were found guilty of murdering three people in a horrific flat fire have failed to convince top judges they should be set free.
Peter Alan Geoffrey Eyre, 45, and his sons Simon Lee Eyre, 25, and Anthony Paul Eyre, 23, were responsible for the blaze in North Street, Langley Mill.
The trio, of Central Avenue, Sandiacre, killed 17-year old Amy Smith, her daughter Ruby-Grace Gaunt, aged six months, and 17-year-old Edward Green.
The fire took place on June 21, 2015, Lord Justice Simon told London’s Appeal Court today.
Petrol had been poured in the area of the front door and a nearby car and set alight.
The fire took hold and smoke entered the property activating the smoke alarm.
But the only means of escape was by the front door, said the judge.
And when the occupants made their way downstairs the fire had already taken hold.
Shaun Gaunt – the father of Ruby-Grace and partner of Ms Smith – and another teenager managed to get to windows in the living room and were rescued by neighbours using ladders.
The background to the blaze was said to be the theft of Mr Gaunt’s moped, said the judge.
He believed another of Peter Eyre’s son was responsible, leading to an argument.
The prosecution case was it was a joint enterprise murder. Father and sons ‘deliberately started a fire as an act of revenge’.
Simon and Anthony were responsible for lighting the fire and their father drove them to and from the scene.
They intended to kill or cause very serious harm.
CCTV of the defendants driving around in the hours before the fire view in article below…
They were convicted of all three murders after a trial at Nottingham Crown Court and caged for life on February 12 last year.
Peter Eyre was ordered to serve a minimum term of 32 years, Simon Eyre a minimum 26 years and Anthony Eyre at least 23 years.
Lawyers for the father and sons argued today that their convictions were ‘unsafe’ and ought to be overturned.
Grounds of appeal included that the judge should have ruled there was no case to answer for murder as the prosecution had not proved intent to kill.
But Lord Justice Simon said: “In our view the judge was right to rule there was a case to answer.”
Read more: Langley Mill fire: Survivor tells of desperate attempts to escape smoke-filled flat…..http://m.nottinghampost.com/langley-survivor-tells-desperate-attempts-escape/story-28534789-detail/story.html
The judge’s summing up of the case was ‘fair to all the appellants’, he added.
Sitting with Mr Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice Soole, he refused all three killers permission to appeal.
Six-month-old Ruby-Grace Gaunt, her mother Amy Smith and her friend Edward Green, both 17, died in the blaze in North Street, Langley Mill, in June.
Peter Eyre, 44, and sons Simon, 24, and Anthony, 22, all of Sandiacre, will spend at least 32, 26 and 23 years respectively in prison.
They started the fire as an act of revenge, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
The blaze was captured by a neighbour from a bedroom window
The trio were found guilty of three counts of murder after a month-long trial.
Judge Mrs Justice Sue Carr QC told the men she was sure the intention was to kill.
She said the fire must have been “truly terrifying” for the young people as they tried to escape.
“I am not sure on the evidence that you knew at the time that a baby was present in the flat,” said the judge.
“There was, however, undoubtedly real mental and physical suffering in the awful minutes before these young people and a baby died.”
She said Peter Eyre used his sons to satisfy his “desire for vengeance and a sense of self-importance”.
“You have repeatedly lied and tried to bully your way out of your criminal responsibility…going so far as to seek to lay all the blame on your sons and your sons alone,” Judge Carr told Peter Eyre.
During the case, the court was told the “catalyst” for the attack was a dispute over a stolen moped, which had been allegedly taken by another of Peter Eyre’s sons.
The fire in Langley Mill killed Amy Smith, 17, her daughter Ruby-Grace Gaunt and friend Edward Green, 17
Amy Smith and her baby Ruby-Grace Gaunt died on the landing, while Edward Green was found near the front door
The moped belonged to Miss Smith’s boyfriend, Shaun Gaunt, 18, who escaped from the fire alongside a friend with the help of neighbours.
The prosecution said following a confrontation with Mr Gaunt and his friends, Peter, Simon and Anthony Eyre drove to Langley Mill, and while Peter waited in his black Skoda, his sons poured petrol outside the front door of the block of flats where Mr Gaunt lived.
The door was the only means of entry and exit, the court heard.
Ruby-Grace was found in her dead mother’s arms on a landing, while Mr Green was found dead near the front door.
The court was told firefighters did not initially see Mr Green lying at the foot of the stairs as the smoke was so thick.
Ruby-Grace’s grandmother, Carleen Gaunt, cannot believe the cruelty of the men responsible for the fire
During his evidence, Peter Eyre denied being part of any plan to kill anyone or start a fire.
Shaun Smith, representing Peter Eyre, described the blaze as a “foolish revenge attack gone terribly wrong”.
Peter Joyce, defending Simon Eyre, asked the judge to take into account Peter Eyre’s “powerful influence” over his sons.
Mrs Justice Carr told Anthony Eyre – who admitted manslaughter before the trial – he had “at least in part” chose to tell the truth as to his criminal involvement.
Amy Smith, Ruby-Grace Gaunt and Shaun Gaunt
Relatives said Shaun Gaunt will “never forget” his girlfriend Amy Smith
‘Cannot underestimate devastation’
Dona Parry-Jones, senior crown prosecutor at CPS East Midlands, said the “mindless attack” had taken the lives of three people who had done nothing to the defendants.
“The Eyres set out to target Mr Gaunt, but it was Amy, Ruby-Grace and Edward who died instead,” she said.
“This was a tragic, needless waste of three young lives. We cannot underestimate the devastation this has left on the families and friends of the three victims. ”
Relatives paid tribute to Ruby-Grace, Miss Smith and Mr Green following the sentencing hearing.
Carleen Gaunt – Ruby-Grace’s grandmother – said the baby was due to have surgery as she had a hole in her heart.
“[Ruby] was so lovely – I loved her to bits,” she said. “Shaun is never going to forget Amy and Ruby or his friend Ed.”
Mrs Gaunt added her disbelief that Peter, Simon and Anthony Eyre could be “so cruel” to target a flat with “only one way in and one way out”.
Media captionAmy Smith’s mother, Melanie Hawkins, said no verdict or sentence will “make what happened that morning any easier for us to live with”
Simon Eyre, Peter Eyre, Anthony Eyre