Men found guilty over deliberate house fire which killed a mother and son

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson

Three men have been found guilty for their part in a deliberate house fire which killed a mother and her young son.

Gina Ingles and her son Milo, who was just four, died on 10 July 2018 at their Eastbourne home.

Gina’s partner Toby Jarrett, now 29, managed to escape through a first floor window and sustained serious injuries including severe burns.

Jacob Barnard and Andrew Milne Credit: Sussex Police

Jacob Barnard and Andrew Milne had poured petrol through the letterbox and set alight to the house over a £400 drug debt.

A third man, John Tabakis, has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice. 

Jacob Barnard's arrest

DNA was found on a lighter left at the scene which was identified as belonging to Jacob Barnard.

Vehicle insurance checks revealed he had a traders’ policy covering multiple cars including a Mercedes ML270, a Renault Megane and a Saab 900.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) checks showed that the Mercedes had travelled from Hastings to Eastbourne and back around the time of the offence.

Cars belonging to Barnard.

Barnard left the UK on 16 July 2018, just days after the incident.

On his return two months later, detectives made a number of attempts to contact him, both visiting his home address and contacting him by phone.

After agreeing to discuss the investigation, Barnard failed to answer or return any further phone calls from police.

DNA on a lighter found at the scene matched Barnard.

In December 2018, Barnard was arrested in Portugal for drug offences, unrelated to this investigation, and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.

In December 2019, officers from Sussex Police travelled to Portugal and interviewed Mr Barnard.

Barnard was then extradited to the UK on 5 January 2021 and charged with two counts of murder, and one of attempted murder.

Andrew Milne's arrest

Telecoms data gathered during the investigation revealed a link between Barnard and one of the victims, Gina's partner Toby Jarrett.

This was found via a mutual associate, whom Mr Jarrett owed money to.

A telephone number with the name “Scotty” was found in one of the mobile phones seized from Barnard when he returned to the UK on 12 September 2018, which was attributed to Andrew Milne.

A witness testimony indicated that Milne had assisted Barnard with setting the fire.

Firefighters were able to recover a fuel can found still alight outside the front door.

On 10 September 2018, a DNA sample was taken from Milne which matched the DNA recovered from a fuel can found still alight immediately outside the front door of the house.

Milne had acted as Barnard’s enforcer, collecting unpaid debts, by force if necessary.

Police searched Milne's property where they found a bag containing gloves, a balaclava, knives and a Taser in a shed.On 28 July 2020, Milne was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and one of attempted murder. He was subsequently remanded in custody ahead of the trial.

John Tabakis' arrest

On 6 March 2019, Tabakis was interviewed as a witness. He confirmed his association with Barnard and stated that he would take several vehicles across to Portugal on Barnard’s behalf, but denied taking the Mercedes from Newhaven to Dieppe, France, on 10 July 2018.

Tabakis then left the country, but was later arrested and charged with perverting the course of justice, and released on conditional bail.

The trial

The court heard how Toby and Gina had an outstanding drugs debt to a third party, which was enforced by two men, now identified as Barnard and Milne, in the form of a deliberate fire.

Gina Ingles, 34, and her son Milo, died in a house fire in 2018

All three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges put to them, but were all found guilty by jury.

Barnard, 32, unemployed, previously of Spring Steps, Winchelsea; and Milne, 42, a furniture remover, of Wilmington Road, Hastings, have been remanded in custody to be sentenced on Friday 28 May.

Tabakis, 31, unemployed, of Cornwallis Gardens, Hastings, was released on bail to be sentenced at a date yet to be set.

Detectives have described the investigation as being 'very long and very complex'.

Senior Investigating Officer, Gordon Denslow, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: "This was a carefully planned, cowardly, but horrific attack carried out by Barnard and Milne in the middle of the night against a defenceless family.

"Tabakis then knowingly tried to help them get away with their crimes by driving the car they used during the attack to Portugal just hours afterwards.  

“Whilst there is sadly nothing that can ever be said or done to undo the events of that tragic night, I can only hope that this outcome provides some comfort to Gina’s and Milo’s family, who have acted with remarkable patience and dignity throughout this prolonged investigation."