South East Wales

Carl Mills guilty of fire triple murders

Kim Buckley, Kayleigh Buckley and Kimberley Buckley
Image caption Kim Buckley, Kayleigh Buckley and Kimberley Buckley died in the fire
The fire from a neighbour's home
Image caption A neighbour took a picture of the fire during the early hours
House after fire
Image caption Neighbours attempted to rescue the family using a ladder
Inside house
Image caption The house was gutted by the blaze
Inside house
Image caption The flames, fuelled by a "chimney effect" of the porch and stairs, rapidly spread upstairs and into the attic from where they burned down into the bedroom
Tent outside the home
Image caption Carl Mills slept in a tent outside the house

A man has been jailed for a minimum of 30 years for murdering three generations of a family in a fire, including his six-month old baby on her first night home from hospital.

Kim Buckley, 46, her daughter Kayleigh, 17, and granddaughter Kimberley died in the blaze in Cwmbran last September.

Carl Mills, 28, was said to be "incredibly controlling and jealous".

The judge told Mills he condemned the family to "an agonising death - you have shown no remorse".

Mr Justice Wyn Williams said there was no guarantee Mills would ever be released and praised the family for its "dignity".

More than 20 relatives attended court to hear the verdicts read out.

After Mills was sentenced, they released three white doves and balloons on the steps of the court in memory of the three victims.

The court had previously heard Mills started the fire because he wrongly believed another man was in the house.

He had sent a barrage of abusive texts to Kayleigh in the hours and days leading to the blaze in which he repeatedly threatened to murder her, their baby and burn down the house.

Image caption Carl Mills repeatedly made threats by text to burn down Kayleigh's home

In the early hours of 18 September last year, Mills, originally from Manchester, set fire to a recycling bin in the porch of the family's house at 15 Tillsland on the Coed Eva estate.

Kimberley, who had been born 15 weeks prematurely and was blind and deaf, had only been released from hospital the previous afternoon after spending her first six months in a neo-natal unit.

A jealous Mills, described by the judge in court as "despicable", resented the attention Kayleigh gave to their daughter and wrongly accused Kayleigh of seeing another man whom he thought was in the house with her the night of the fire.

Neighbours had tried to rescue the family but were beaten back by flames.

In court on Thursday Mills was described as being callous, hurtful and spiteful, and yawned while the family's victim impact statement was read out by the prosecution.

The statement read: "Today we feel justice has been served.

"Carl Mills starts a life sentence for three murders but for us, the family and friends of Kim, Kayleigh and Kimberley, our life sentence started on the 18th of September last year when three beautiful, innocent people were torn from our lives.

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Media captionDet Supt Peter Jones: "We've seen real bravery from the Buckley family"

"Our lives are never going to be the same again but we ask to be left in peace to come to terms with our losses."

A statement was also read out on behalf of Gwyneth Swain, the mother of Kim.

It read: "They were affectionately known as Special K, as they were known to others and so many people.

"To have them all lost in one senseless act is beyond words. I have much family but feel lost without Kim, feel alone.

"People ask what can I do to help or I'm here for you, but I want to turn to Kim but she isn't there.

"Kim was proud of Kayleigh and was looking forward to the future. I still can't believe it's happened. Kim was more like a best friend than a daughter."

Trial judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams then imposed a 30-year minimum tariff on Mills, adding: "There is no saying whether you will ever be released."

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Media captionDoves and balloons released after verdict

Mills sat leaning on his arm as the judge made his comments and did not look up.

Family and friends then gave a round of applause as Mills was taken away.

Det Supt Peter Jones paid tribute to the family's "bravery" on the steps of the court and to neighbours who had put themselves "in harm's way" in their desperate attempts to save the family.

He said it was difficult to put into words how he felt about Mills, adding: "In starting that fire he knew what he was doing and, from witness evidence, smirked at what he did."

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