A gambler murdered a father and his eight-year-old daughter by setting fire to their home to destroy CCTV showing him stealing from a neighbour, a court heard today.
Daniel Jones, 29, is accused of pouring petrol through the letterbox of the home which went up in flames, killing Andrew Broadhead, 42, and his daughter Kiera.
The court was told he killed started the fire in order to destroy evidence which showed him stealing a safe to fund his gambling addiction.
Jones, who had a ‘major gambling problem’, filled up containers with petrol before starting the horrific blaze at 4.17am, Leeds Crown Court heard.
Neighbours rushed to save the family and rescued mother Sara Broadhead and elder daughter Mia, now 36 and 14.
Andrew Broadhead, 42, and his eight-year-old daughter Kiera both died in the fire
Police officers attended the scene in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, to deal with the aftermath
But the ‘smoke and heat from the fire made it impossible’ for them to rescue Andrew and Kiera and they were pronounced dead at the scene in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said: ‘This is a tragic case in many ways. Andrew and Sara Broadhead lived with their daughters Mia and Kiera.
‘The family had just got back home from holiday and no doubt they were all tired.
‘But at 4.17am someone approached their home, poured petrol through its letterbox and then set fire to that letterbox.
‘Smoke and fire rapidly spread through the house. The family awoke and two of them managed to escape, Sara and her elder daughter Mia.
‘But the two others were not so lucky. The fire and smoke killed Andrew Broadhead, Mia’s father and Sara’s husband, and the fire and smoke also killed their youngest daughter Kiera.’
After stealing the safe, Jones, from Knottingley, West Yorkshire, searched online ‘Hhw to break into a Yale safe’ and found a video tutorial, the jury was told.
Following the burglary, Ben Kaye – whose safe had been stolen – became suspicious of Jones after making local enquiries and seeing video evidence of his van on the street.
He then called Jones to come over to his house on the evening of October 18 and challenged him about the theft which he denied.
Mr Kaye warned him of CCTV from the Broadhead family home which may be used as evidence and told Jones the family at number 55 were on holiday and were due back in a few days.
However, this was incorrect and they returned on October 18 – less than a day before the fire that happened in the early hours of October 19, the court heard.
The surviving daughter wrote a heartbreaking tribute to her father and sister, writing: ‘Come back. Come back, we need you. I miss you like there’s none of me left’
Neighbours rushed to save the family and rescued mother Sara Broadhead and elder daughter Mia, now 36 and 14
The jury were shown CCTV evidence of Jones leaving Mr Kaye’s home that night and appearing to glance at the bedroom window of the Broadheads’ home.
Mr Sharp said: ‘That was and, to Daniel Jones, can only have been, the clearest indication that the house was now occupied and people were asleep in it.’
The court was told later that night, Jones left his home and visited an ESSO garage where he filled up his van with diesel.
He then attended Winstons massage parlour in nearby Dewsbury, before continuing to another petrol station.
Whilst there, the prosecution allege Jones filled up two containers with petrol before driving back to the street where the Broadheads’ lived.
The jury the viewed CCTV allegedly showing Jones approaching the Broadheads’ home and starting the blaze at 4.17am, before running and driving away.
Mrs Broadhead and her eldest daughter left a heartbreaking tribute letter at the scene
Mr Sharp added: ‘Daniel Jones did not set fire to the Broadheads’ house because he had some sort of grudge against them.
‘No, he did it because he wanted to destroy evidence of another crime he had earlier committed.
‘He had burgled a nearby house, he feared the consequences and he thought the CCTV from the Broadheads’ house would show him doing it.
‘He wanted to destroy that CCTV by setting fire to the house, but that meant he would also kill, or at the very least seriously injure, anyone asleep inside that house.’
In the days after the fire, Jones used the internet to search for ‘Fire in Stanley Wakefield’ and checked ITV and police news sites, the court heard.
He was arrested on October 22 three days after the blaze.
Jones, who sat motionless in the dock in a grey suit and white shirt, denies two counts of murder, one count of arson with intent to endanger life and one count of burglary.
Andrew’s wife Sara was at court for the plea hearing wearing a necklace that appeared to hold her late husband’s wedding band.
The trial continues.
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