Man, 31, accused of triple murder in Clifton flat fire has 'history of setting fires'

Rosie Dowsing reports from Nottingham Crown Court.

A man accused of murdering a mother and two children in a Nottingham flat fire has 'a history of setting fires', a court has heard.

Fatoumatta Hydara and her children Naeemah and Fatimah Drammeh died in the blaze in Fairisle Close in Clifton in November last year.

31-year-old Jamie Barrow has admitted to starting the blaze that killed his neighbours, but while he has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, he denies the more serious charge of triple murder.

At Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday, Barrow admitted wanting to start a fire because it would feel like a 'release' during a period of poor mental health, but maintains he did not know the family were inside the flat.

Barrow lit the fire after filling a bottle with petrol from his motorbike and pouring it through his victims' letterbox before lighting it with tissue paper.

In a cross-examination of his evidence, Barrow said to the prosecution: "I started to feel guilt as soon as soon as I realised people were in the flat, as soon as people were brought out the flat."

But asked if he felt he should hand himself in at that time, Barrow responded: "Not at that current time, no."

Mrs Hydara, 28, died two days after the fire, while Fatimah, three, and Naeemah, one, both died in the blaze, with all three succumbing to smoke inhalation.

During cross-examination by prosecutor, Simon Ash KC, Barrow denied hearing screaming sounds from the fire as he left the scene.

Barrow also maintained he did not think the fire would spread further than the front door area of the flat, but the prosecution pointed out Barrow has a "history of setting fires" and "experience of watching how fires develop."

The prosecution examined medical notes from two doctors and one highlighted an event when Barrow was in care aged 15, when a fire safety officer was called because Barrow had been starting fires.

When the officer arrived, Barrow walked to him with an aerosol can and set it alight.

About that incident, Barrow said: "I was a naughty kid".

The court also heard that Barrow knew Flat 17 below him was empty, but he chose to set fire to Flat 23 where Ms Hydara lived.

The prosecution said: "You didn't want to set fire to an empty flat that night did you? You wanted to kill somebody?

"You wanted someone to pay for all the unfairness in your life?"

To which Barrow replied, "no."

Throughout the cross-examination Barrow continued to maintain it was not his intention to kill anyone.

Jamie Barrow denies three charges of murder.

The trial continues.