29/01/2010

House Fire 'Manslaughter' Man Jailed

A man has been jailed for the manslaughter of his son and two of his step-children.

Kevin Hargreaves, 38, of no fixed abode was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter at Manchester Crown Court Crown Square on Wednesday.

He was sentenced to 12 years for each count, to run concurrently.

On Wednesday 15 July, Hargreaves, together with his wife went to lay flowers at the grave of his wife's mother, as it was the anniversary of her death.

Hargreaves stepdaughter Carly Swift, aged 19, was baby-sitting for the other children while they went out.

After spending some time at the grave Hargreaves and his wife went out in Stockport where they stayed until around 2am, Thursday 16 July 2009.

They shared a taxi back to Beswick where Hargreaves' wife lived on Herne Street.

On the journey home Hargreaves said he was hungry and they stopped at a kebab shop in Longsight. Hargreaves' wife bought a kebab each for Hargreaves and the taxi driver.

Hargreaves was not happy about this and they began to argue, with Hargreaves verbally abusing his wife.

When they got back to the house Hargreaves stated he no longer wanted the kebab and they continued to argue.

Hargreaves eventually asked his wife to come to bed. He got undressed and lay on the bed naked with his wife beside him with her clothes on.

As the argument carried on Hargreaves' wife left the bed to sleep on the settee downstairs.

A short time later Hargreaves followed her and he became aggressive, punching her in the back of her head demanding money.

Hargreaves eventually went back upstairs and a short time later his wife, who was asking for an explanation as to why he had assaulted her, followed him and saw the fire in the bedroom.

She saw Hargreaves pick up the burning duvet from the bed and wave it around his head.

She ran out screaming for her children to get out, managing to grab two of her young sons and get them outside. She tried to go back in for her other children but could not make it past the flames.

Hargreaves was seen leaning on the garden gate outside, not attempting to help anyone inside the house.

All of the people in the house managed to escape, except John Hargreaves aged eight and Jordan Swift aged 14, who were both in the top floor bedroom.

Carly had managed to get out of the house but ran back in to help her two younger brothers.

Firemen found her on the landing close to the boys' bedroom. All three were taken to hospital but they did not survive their injuries.

It was later discovered Hargreaves had poured petrol on the bed before putting a flame close enough for the petrol vapour to set alight.

Senior Investigating Officer Vincent Chadwick said: "What started as an argument ended in the tragic deaths of two young boys and an extremely brave young woman. Carly's actions on that night were without thought for her own safety and showed the love she had for her brothers.

"Hargreaves deliberately started the fire that night and while it was accepted that he did not intend to kill the children his actions resulted in their deaths."

(PR/BMcC)

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