Trial starts over death of Eastbourne mum and her son in fatal blaze

A young mum died trying to protect her four-year-old son after drug dealers turned their Eastbourne family home into a ‘deadly inferno’, a court heard.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 11:39 am
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 1:56 pm

Fire investigators found the body of Gina Ingles, 34, crouching over her dead son Milo, huddled under the windowsill in their burnt out bedroom.

A dog they were looking after for a friend was found next to them.

Gina’s partner Toby Jarrett spent months in hospital after falling from a second floor window as the family tried desperately to escape the blaze.

SUS-190919-111114001

Two men poured petrol through the letterbox and set light to the house over a £400 debt, jurors heard.

Thirty-one-year-old Jacob Barnard lived in Portugal, and Andrew Milne, 42, from Hastings, both deny murdering the young mum and her son and attempting to kill Mr Jarrett by setting fire to the family home in Eastbourne, Kate Lumsdon QC told the court.

A jury in Brighton were told Mr Jarrett woke at about 1.30am on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 to a room full of smoke and a yellow glow.

They leapt out of bed, Gina going straight for her son.

As flames lapped the walls, she grabbed Milo from his bed and ran back across the burning landing to her room, the court heard.

Toby Jarrett was badly burned as he crossed the landing after her.

He fell to the ground after balancing on the bedroom windowsill.

Ms Lumsdon told the jury, “Struggling to his feet, he shouted to Gina to pass Milo down to him.

“There was no reply.

“He shouted and shouted but he could not see Gina or Milo.

“Days later, when the house was assessed as safe to enter, the remains of the bodies of Gina and Milo were found in Gina’s bedroom, under the window. Gina was crouching over Milo, protecting him.”

The body of a dog the family were looking after for a friend was lying next to them.

“Outside the front of the house was a petrol can. Nearby was a lighter.

“Fire ripped through the small terraced house like a torch,” Ms Lumsdon said.

The jury were told Mr Jarrett owed £400 to a local drug dealer. Ms Lumsdon said the fire was intended to send a message.

She said, “The general message sent out to the wider drug community – don’t mess with this drugs line.”

CCTV from a house in Croxden Way showed two men walking away from the fire, Ms Lumsdon said.

She said, “You will see at one point they pause and look back over their shoulders, towards the fire which, we know from other evidence, will have taken hold by then.”

The fire took more than two hours to put out, the court heard.

Investigators said patterns of burning showed the fire started in the hallway and spread up the staircase to the top floor and roof.

Gina and Milo died of smoke inhalation.

Mr Jarrett suffered partial full thickness burns to 40 per cent of his body, five fractured vertebrae in his back and fractured pelvis.

One of the first firefighters on the scene noticed a burning green fuel can as he approached the front doorway.

Ms Lumsdon told the jury scientific evidence linked Barnard and Andrew Milne to the fire.

She said DNA matching Barnard was found on the lighter and DNA matching Andrew Milne was found on the petrol can both discarded at the scene.

Barnard ran his drug empire from a villa in Macieira, Portugal, the court heard. He dealt in second hand cars, buying them in the UK and taking them to Portugal to sell on, said Ms Lumsdon.

Ms Lumsdon said, “He also dealt in drugs.”

John Tabakis is accused of driving a car linked to the fire to Portugal.

Ms Lumsdon said, “Barnard said the reason he had had to get the Mercedes out of the country was that he had used it while committing a crime.

“He said that someone had owed him money and he wanted to make an example of him. He said that he and ‘a Scottish guy’ had poured petrol through the letterbox and set fire to the house.”

Andrew Milne, known as Scotty or Scottish, denied he was Jake Barnard’s enforcer in the UK, Ms Lumsdon said.

Police said they uncovered a hoard of weapons when they searched the Andrew Milne’s shed. They found a collection of knives, an extendable baton, a taser together with gloves and a balaclava, the jury was told.

On October 5, 2018 the court heard Milne sent a text message to his girlfriend after she complained about having too much work.

Andrew Milne’s text said, “Set it on fire and walk out but just as you leave drop the lighter like a mike xxxxx.”

Ms Lumsdon said police found Milne bought 15 litres of petrol from a petrol station in Hastings four days before the fire.

On January 5 this year following extradition proceedings, Jake Barnard was flown into Gatwick from Portugal and arrested.

Jake Barnard and Andrew Milne deny murdering Milo Ingles-Bailey and Gina Ingles at the house on Croxden Way, Eastbourne.

They also deny the attempted murder of Toby Jarrett.

John Tabakis denies perverting the course of justice by driving a car from Sussex to Portugal.

The trial at Lewes Crown Court in Brighton continues.