October 2013

Triple killer’s sentence increased


A jealous alcoholic who torched his teenage girlfriend’s home, killing three generations of one family, has had his 30-year minimum term increased to 35 years by Court of Appeal judges.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, sitting with two other judges in London, ruled that the tariff imposed in the case of Carl Mills, now 29, from Manchester, was “unduly lenient”.

Mills, who was jailed for life at Newport Crown Court in July after being found guilty of the three murders – including that of his own baby daughter – had bombarded his partner with threatening texts and warned: “I will burn your house down.”

Kim Buckley, 46, her daughter Kayleigh, 17, and six-month-old granddaughter Kimberley died in the “horrific” fire in Cwmbran, South Wales, in September last year.

Kimberley, born 13 weeks premature, was at home in the property for the first time after being discharged from hospital that day.

Homeless Mills, the baby’s father, was living in a tent in the front garden and had been banned from seeing the child unsupervised.

Mills, who watched today’s proceedings via video-link from prison, must now serve at least 35 years behind bars before he can apply for parole.

Speaking after today’s hearing Solicitor General Oliver Heald, who referred the sentence to the Court of Appeal for review, said: ” It is hard to overstate the seriousness of this crime.

“Carl Mills murdered three generations of the same family, leaving a chasm of grief.

“I asked the Court of Appeal to look again at this sentence, as despite it being a life sentence with a term of 30 years minimum, the fact remains that Mills denied having set the fire and maintained that stance at trial.

“I am thankful that the Court of Appeal has today increased his minimum term to 35 years and I can only hope this offers some degree of reassurance to the public.”

Lord Thomas said there were a number of “serious” aggravating factors in the case.

It was evident, he said, that “the murders of the three members of the family took place against a background of controlling and abusive behaviour by the offender”.

Threats were made “over a period of time and on the day in question”.

He added: “The killing was carried out by a fire which was deliberately set at the home of the family whom the offender must have known were asleep and in bed. The infant was totally helpless and vulnerable.

“It is also important to bear in mind that it was his own child that was killed by him.”

Lord Thomas said it was clear that a “serious degree of pain and suffering” had been inflicted on Ms Buckley and Kayleigh before they died.

He said: “The evidence of the neighbours, which speaks of them shouting and appreciating the position they were in, shows that they must have been burnt to death.”

July 2013

Cwmbran fire deaths: Carl Mills jailed at least 30 years for triple murder

A violent alcoholic man has been found guilty of murdering three generations of the same family, including his own ill baby daughter, by setting fire to their home on the day the child came home from hospital for the first time.

Carl Mills, 28, killed his six-month-old daughter, Kimberley, who was born deaf and blind, her mother, Kayleigh Buckley, 17, and the child’s grandmother, Kim Buckley, 46, who were all trapped in the family home in Coed Eva, Cwmbran, when a blaze ripped through it in the early hours of 18 September last year.

Mills started the inferno after becoming convinced that Kayleigh had been seeing other men, and because he was jealous that she was spending more time with the child than him.

He was jailed for life at Newport crown court and told he would serve at least 30 years before being considered for parole. Mr Justice Wyn Williams said: “You must have known that once the fire had taken hold that there would be virtually no chance of escape.” He added: “There is no saying whether you will ever be released.” There was applause in the public gallery as Mills was led away.

Carl Mills court case

Kayleigh and her mother had been celebrating Kimberley’s homecoming after she spent her first six months in hospital. When the fire took hold, neighbours desperately tried to help but the teenage mother refused to leave her baby to escape and could not bear to throw the child to safety.

The jury heard that Mills “groomed” Kayleigh when she was just 15 after they met via Facebook. He moved into the family home but was living in a tent in the garden at the time of the murders, having fallen out with his girlfriend’s mother.

Contacts that health and social services professionals and other agencies had with the family will now come under scrutiny. The court was told that social services were concerned about Mills’s heavy drinking and he had been banned by officials from seeing Kimberley in hospital. A serious case review has been commissioned by the Torfaen safeguarding children board.

After the verdict, the surviving members of the family released a statement in which they said they believed justice had been done.

It said: “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 18 September last year when three beautiful innocent people were torn from our lives. Our lives are never going to be the same again.”

Nicola Rees of the Crown Prosecution Service Wales said: “Carl Mills was responsible for starting a devastating fire that had distressing and tragic consequences. He did so knowing full well who was in the house at the time – and the evidence of his jealous and controlling nature makes it all too clear what his intentions were.

“Once the fire had taken hold, neighbours and friends of Kim, Kayleigh and Kimberley Buckley did whatever they could to try and assist at the scene. In contrast, Mills himself displayed a callous, almost casual disregard for the wellbeing of those trapped inside the house.”

Mills was arrested in the back garden of the family home on the night of the fire. He showed no emotion but insisted he had nothing to do with the fire.

He insisted that he and Kayleigh were in love and planned to get married. But when police examined his mobile phones they discovered that he had made explicit threats to kill Kayleigh by burning the house down.

Detective Superintendent Peter Jones of Gwent police said: “It was very clear from the text messages that Mills was making threats to kill. Threats to kill using arson. Carl Mills is an incredibly controlling individual.”

Jones said it was no coincidence that Mills murdered his own daughter on the night she was allowed home from hospital for the first time. Asked whether Mills was a sexual predator who had groomed the teenager, Jones said: “I think that the facts speak for themselves. Carl Mills will be 29 this year and Kayleigh was 15 when they met.”