A young boy watched in horror as his mother and her boyfriend had a ‘tug of war’ with a petrol can on the night a fire killed his five-year-old brother, a court heard.
Aaron Medcraft, 23, ‘tipped petrol on the floor’ of the family’s home in Rugby, Warwickshire, before his girlfriend threw a lighter ‘so hard on the ground’ during an argument, her son told police in harrowing recordings played in court.
The boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – said the lighter thrown by his mother accidentally ‘broke and that caused a massive fire’ which ripped through the semi-detached house, on November 15, 2018.
The mother and two of her children managed to flee along with Medcraft but the youngest, a five-year-old boy, remained trapped inside.
He was rushed to hospital with horrific burns, but tragically died from his injuries four months later in March 2019.
A young boy watched in horror as his mother and her boyfriend had a ‘tug of war’ with a petrol can on the night a fire (the aftermath, pictured) killed his five-year-old brother, a court heard
Medcraft is accused of starting the fatal blaze after arguing with the children’s mother – who also cannot be named – about money.
He allegedly threatened to kill his girlfriend and her children before the blaze began.
Kevin Hegarty QC, prosecuting, Medcraft poured petrol around the kitchen before he ‘pulled out a lighter and sparked it, igniting the petrol, and ran from the house’
In a harrowing recording, the boy’s older brother told police how he watched Medcraft and his mum fighting shortly before the blaze.
The boy said: ‘There was a big argument and I went downstairs.
‘They were fighting. Aaron got some petrol and tipped it on the floor, and then mum threw the lighter down on it.
‘We got out through the window, and then she went back in to get [his brother], then came the fire brigade.’
The court heard the boy and another child scrambled through a window and climbed over a gate before banging on a neighbour’s door to raise the alarm.
Aaron Medcraft, 23, allegedly ‘tipped petrol on the floor’ of the family’s home in Rugby, Warwickshire (the aftermath, pictured)
Asked about the relationship between his mother and Medcraft, the boy said: ‘They started to date about four to five months before the fire.
‘He was dealing drugs and robbing and stuff like that. He just did nasty things to people.
‘He started fights and stuff, and dealing drugs to under-age people in the park.
‘There was a box on top of the kitchen shelf where the cups were, and the drugs were in that box. Cocaine and weed and stuff like that.
‘He had petrol from his car in a green container. He took one of them the night before the fire.’
Describing seeing his mum and Medcraft fighting in the kitchen on the night of the blaze, he said: ‘Aaron threw petrol on the floor and mum threw the lighter down, and there was a fire.
‘He got out the bottle and unscrewed the lid and tipped all of it, and then mum threw the lighter.
‘She threw it so hard on the ground that it broke. She flicked it and dashed it down from a real height.
‘It broke and that caused a massive fire.
‘The lighter was kind of broken, so it stuck and the flame carried on.’
Earlier, Medcraft told the jury he and the boy’s mum had been having a ‘tug of war’ over the petrol can before the fire broke out.
He claimed she started the blaze, and he had tried to race back into the house to rescue the children but ‘the heat hit me’.
Medcraft told the jury: ‘I wish I did get help, because I should have done. I should have gone to the neighbours or got the fire service, I should have done something.’
Medcraft, of Rugby, denies murder, attempted murder and arson with intent to endanger life.