Newark woman jailed for lighting 'inferno' in disabled mother-in-law's bed as she slept

Elizabeth Vamplew died in a blaze started by her daughter-in-law Karen Vamplew.

A woman has been jailed for life for murdering her disabled mother-in-law by setting fire to her bed while she slept.

Elizabeth Vamplew, 77, known to her family as Anne, was deaf and unable to walk unaided.

She died of burns and smoke inhalation in the fire at her bungalow in Newark on 15 December 2021.

Leicester Crown Court heard Karen Vamplew, 44, was in more than £10,000 of debt and had started the blaze in the early hours of the morning with the intention of killing her mother-in-law to gain inheritance money.

Vamplew disabled the location function on her phone and was caught on CCTV making her way to Elizabeth Vamplew's house on Eton Court, where she lit the bottom corner of the bed in which she was sleeping.

Sentencing her, the judge Timothy Spencer KC said: "She must have woken to find her bed on fire. Flames, smoke, an inferno. And she, unable to hear, confused, terrified. This was hell."

Karen Vamplew was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 32 years at Leicester Crown Court Credit: PA

The court heard Vamplew, who received carer's allowance for looking after her mother-in-law and had access to her bank account, had drained it of almost £27,000 in the weeks leading up to the murder.

Prosecutor Peter Joyce KC said: "The ready source of cash for the defendant had ceased and she [the victim] was no longer of use to the defendant; only a burden.

"The defendant did however know that under the terms of the deceased’s will the defendant’s husband stood to inherit half his mother’s estate. The will was later found at her home."

The court heard Vamplew returned to the scene of the fire later in the morning, now dressed in pyjamas, and attempted to make it look like Elizabeth had summoned her in distress through a lifeline system she wore on a pendant.

Det Ch Insp Clare Dean from Nottinghamshire Police said: "Throughout this investigation Vamplew maintained that she was not responsible for the death of her own mother-in-law.

"The simple fact is that she deliberately set a catastrophic and fatal fire knowing full well that Elizabeth was asleep inside the property. It was a brutal and premeditated act borne out of wickedness and greed."

In a statement Elizabeth's family described her as a "devoted mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, and friend to many" who will be "greatly missed by her family and many friends".

Karen Vamplew was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 32 years.

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