Man who started house fire that killed dad and daughter ‘left family facing a lifetime of loss’

DCI Bryar
DCI Bryar

It took detectives just three days to catch Jones after the fatal house fire that killed Andrew Broadhead and his daughter.

The day after the blaze, Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Bryar, of the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, made an emotional appeal outside the family home in Stanley.

She said she believed someone in the community had the answers to the crime which shocked this quiet close-knit community.

Jones, 29, of Spawd Bone Lane, Knottingley was arrested two days later on the evening of October 22, 2016 and first appeared at Leeds Crown Court on October 28.

He denied two charges of murder and two alternative counts of manslaughter.

Jones also pleaded not guilty to burglary and to arson with intent to endanger life and an alternative charge of arson

But he was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter and one of burglary by a jury last month.

During the trial, Leeds Crown Court was told that Jones poured petrol through the letter box of the Ash Crescent house at 4.17am on October 19, 2016, whilst the family slept upstairs.

The prosecution said Jones was under mounting financial problems due to gambling debts and pressure to pay child support and had stolen a safe from a neighbouring house three days earlier. The court was told he returned to the scene after being accused of carrying out the break-in and made aware of a camera on the Broadheads’ home. Jurors heard he started the blaze in an attempt to destroy CCTV footage which he believed contained incriminating evidence of the burglary.

Tragically, the court heard the camera was not even working. The prosecution said Jones filled his van up with diesel in the early hours of October 19 before driving to Leeds.

The jury was told he drove to Dewsbury Road where he was captured on CCTV entering Winston’s massage parlour before leaving 20 minutes later.

He bought 3.75 litres of petrol at a garage nearby before driving to the Stanley area of Wakefield, the court was told. Jones initially told police he had been asleep at his father’s house in Knottingley. When asked about his answers in court, he agreed he had been lying.

The jury was also shown CCTV footage of the fire, showing a figure approaching the house before the blaze starts, then running away. Jones denied the person was him.

The court heard how Andy struggled in vain to get himself and his beloved girl out, as Sara and Mia Broadhead were helped to escape by neighbours.

Jurors were read a statement on behalf of Mrs Broadhead in which she described the horror of waking in the middle of the night and her home filling with fumes and smoke.

She described how she went to Mia’s bedroom and told her to climb out of the window while her husband went to get Kiera. Mrs Broadhead and Mia then climbed out on to the roof of a utility room. She said: “I could hear Andy coughing and Kiera screaming but when I dropped onto the flat roof they weren’t behind me.”

The statement continued: “It all went quiet and I just knew.”

Jones told the jury that he did not light the fire or carry out a raid on the other house.

Speaking after the hearing yesterday, DCI Bryar said: “The terrible and tragic events of October 19, 2016 shocked not only the Stanley community but the whole of West Yorkshire. A loving family was left completely devastated by Jones’ actions and it is difficult to imagine the pain Sara, her daughter and the wider family have endured following the deaths of Andrew and Kiera. I am pleased they have seen the man responsible convicted and jailed.

“It is difficult to know where to start to describe the sheer madness and callousness of Jones’ actions in trying to cover up a burglary by setting fire to a family home.

“It is no exaggeration to say he has left the Broadhead family facing a lifetime of loss.”