ITV News Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman reports on the triple murder trial of Jamie Barrow at Nottingham Crown Court
A 31-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering a mother and her two daughters after he set fire to their flat in Nottingham.
Jamie Barrow torched the flat belonging to Fatoumatta Hydara, and daughters Fatimah Drammeh and Naeemah Drammeh in Clifton, Nottingham, last November by pouring petrol through their letterbox.
Fatimah, three, and Naeemah, one, both died in the blaze on 20 November 2022 last year from smoke inhalation.
Mrs Hydara, 28, died two days later, with all three succumbing to smoke inhalation.
Barrow had already admitted manslaughter but a jury of seven men and four women unanimously convicted him of murder on Tuesday after almost seven hours of deliberations.
He was also found guilty of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Police body-worn camera footage shows the moment Jamie Barrow, 31, was arrested.
In the trial, which started on June 12, prosecutor Simon Ash KC told jurors Barrow had "walked casually away" from the fire after lighting petrol taken from his motorbike and set alight with tissue paper in the early hours of the morning.
Mr Ash said the family were asleep in the flat when the fire was started.
"He poured petrol through their letterbox and he set it alight," he told the court, before adding: "The defendant knew that the front door was the only way in and out of the flat.
"He knew that there would be no way for them to escape."
He went on: “Shortly after (the alarm), Mrs Hydara or one of the children started screaming.
“The defendant did nothing to help them.
“He didn’t call the fire service or alert anyone to what was happening."
Prosecutors told the trial at Nottingham Crown Court that Barrow, who lived in the neighbouring flat in Fairisle Close, had a “grievance” over rubbish being left in an alleyway and watched the fire take hold while ignoring screams coming from inside.
The defendant, who admitted he had drank “seven or eight” cans of San Miguel lager before starting the fire, would have known that his victims were home due to a pram being left outside the door and a light coming from the hallway, Mr Ash said.
He added that after the fire took hold, Barrow “did nothing to help” those trapped inside the first-floor flat.
“The more it goes, the more mesmerised I get"
Barrow had earlier described lighting fires as a 'cathartic' exercise.
He said that fires had “always helped stress” and that he was “mesmerised” by them taking hold.
Some members of the victims’ family, to whom Barrow apologised while giving evidence and who have packed the public gallery throughout proceedings, wept after the verdicts were delivered. Barrow remained silent throughout.
While giving his evidence, Barrow said he “can’t explain” why he chose to target the neighbouring flat but had formed the opinion that no one was inside as he had not seen or heard his neighbours in the days leading up to the fire.
He had been suffering from a “very, very low mood” and was “wallowing in self-pity” in the days and hours before his actions, caused partially by his emotionally unstable personality disorder.
He told the court he did not expect the fire to take hold as rapidly as it did and said he was driven to admit what he had done to police officers due to “an immense amount of guilt”, telling police: “I need to tell you something about the fire next door.”
The jury heard that Barrow found starting fires “cathartic” and gave “zero” consideration to the consequences of his actions, rejecting his assertion that he had not intended to harm anyone when starting the fatal blaze.
In a psychiatric report read to the court by defence KC Christopher Henley, Barrow said:
“Fire has always helped with stress. It has always been cathartic.
“When it goes up it’s always a sense of release.
“The more it goes, the more mesmerised I get.”
"Really happy children"
He was in America where he works as a biomedical technologist when he heard the news, in the process of securing visas for his family to join him in Minnesota.
He said his wife was a “very faithful person”, who was “caring” and would help “whoever she could”.
“She loved the kids. They did a lot of baking together and fun things in the house. They would make cookies and cupcakes and loved putting the icing on the cakes.
He also said of his children: “They were both really happy children. They loved spending time with their grandparents and got along really well as siblings.”
Thanking the jury for their service, Mrs Justice Tipples said: "This has been a particularly distressing case in which three people died and in those circumstances I am going to discharge you from jury service for life."
Barrow will be sentenced on Friday at the same court.