Derby

Fiona Adams not guilty of children's fire death murders

Fiona Adams with daughter Niamh and elder son Cayden
Image caption The bodies of Cayden and Niamh were found in their mother's bedroom

A woman has been cleared of murdering two of her children in a fire at her Derbyshire house.

Fiona Adams escaped with her baby son Kiernan but her daughter Niamh, five, and son Cayden, two, died in the blaze at Edale Way, in Buxton, last April.

The prosecution claimed burns to her hands showed she had started the fire but her defence said she suffered the injuries while trying to escape.

Derbyshire Police has said an independent team will review the case.

The prosecution had accused Miss Adams of starting the fire in a laundry basket to get the attention of her partner James Maynard, 28.

Jumped from window

Mr Maynard, who is the father of all three children, had cheated on her in the past.

The court heard she escaped the fire by jumping from a bedroom window on to a trampoline while holding her baby son.

The prosecution said burns to Miss Adams' hands showed she had started the fire.

Image caption The two children were found dead near the window ledge, the court heard

But the defence said an eyewitness saw flames coming from the window from which she jumped and suggested this could have been how she suffered the injury.

Miss Adams said she welcomed the verdict.

A statement read on her behalf outside court said: "Today's verdict has been long awaited by Fiona and her family and is of course welcomed.

"She would especially like to thank her family and her well wishers who have provided her with so much support throughout."

Mr Maynard, who is no longer in a relationship with Miss Adams, said he had never doubted her innocence.

'Never doubted'

Speaking after the verdicts, he said: "When you've been in a relationship for a length of time with someone you know them inside and out and I just knew she wasn't responsible."

He added he "never for one moment" believed any of the allegations against her and said he was horrified when she was charged.

Miss Adams had told the court on the night of the fire she had heard the smoke alarm going off as she got ready for bed.

She said: "I went straight out of my bedroom... it was just like an orange glow coming from downstairs."

She told the jury she took Niamh and Cayden, who shared a bedroom, into her room because their windows were locked.

"I remember being stood at the window and then I opened the window.

"I just remember the smoke getting worse and worse. As the smoke got worse, the less I could see.

"They [Niamh and Cayden] were stood with me. When I turned back around, they weren't there any more."

'Achieve justice'

A spokesman for Derbyshire police confirmed an independent review of the case would be carried out.

The spokesman said: "Derbyshire Constabulary would like to offer its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Niamh and Cayden Maynard, particularly to James Maynard and all the grandparents.

"The role of the police was to investigate the deaths of Niamh and Cayden Maynard and to achieve justice for the children and their families.

"The evidence was heard by the jury, who felt it was not sufficient enough to find Fiona guilty. During our inquiry, we found no evidence to suggest that anyone else was responsible for the fire. "

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