‘Monster’ triple murderer jailed for killing mother and young daughters in fire

Jamie Barrow set fire to the home of Fatoumatta Hydara, 28, and her daughters Fatimah and Naeemah Drammeh, aged three and one, last November.

A “cowardly” triple murderer who killed a mother and her young children by setting their flat on fire has been jailed for life.

Jamie Barrow will serve a minimum of 44 years behind bars after pouring petrol through the letterbox of the first-floor flat where neighbour Fatoumatta Hydara and her daughters Fatimah and Naeemah Drammeh, aged three and one, lived.

Barrow, 31, drank several cans of lager before taking petrol from his motorbike and set it alight in November last year, after holding what prosecutors described as a “grievance” over rubbish being left in an alleyway.

He used a Clean ‘N Fresh spray bottle to decant the petrol, which he chose deliberately because its slim neck would fit through a letterbox.

He then stood outside the flat in Fairisle Close, Clifton, Nottingham, to watch the fire take hold, ignoring the screams of those inside and later asked housing officers if he would be compensated for his smoke-damaged belongings.

Reading a victim impact statement for almost an hour at the city’s Crown Court on Friday, Mrs Hydara’s husband and the children’s father, Aboubacarr Drammeh, said: “I was hopeless, and I was left helpless, because I didn’t have a family, and it was the people who mattered most to me.

“Since then, it has been a downward plunge into darkness and the unknown.

“It was unthinkable, it was unplanned, and I wish this on no one else, including you.”

Addressing Barrow, who remained silent throughout, he later said: “You had choices, but you chose otherwise.

“Hate, anger, destruction, I don’t know, but of all the choices you had, you chose the most damaging of all.

“I am angry, I am sad, I am hurt, I am heartbroken. At the same time, I am grateful for them being a part of me. I am grateful for Fatoumatta and the kids, as they made me a better person.

“My life will never be the same. I am not even going to try. I have cried more often than I can admit to my family and friends.

“Every single day is different. Will I get better today? I don’t know. The only comfort I have is that you, as a person, cannot do this to anyone else in this world. I am afraid to start this all over again.

“Your impact is infinite, it is immeasurable, it is innumerable. I cannot quantify the impact of your actions.”

In her statement read to the court, Mrs Hydara’s mother, Aminata Dibba, called Barrow a “monster” and a “heartless human being”.

Aboubacarr Drammeh said on Tuesday that his wife was an 'incredible mother' and their children were 'two angels' (Family handout/Nottinghamshire Police/PA)
Aboubacarr Drammeh said his wife was an ‘incredible mother’ and their children were ‘two angels’ (family handout/Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

Prosecutor Simon Ash KC had previously told the trial that Barrow “walked casually away” after lighting the petrol with some tissue paper, having watched the flames take hold for “about five minutes”.

He “did nothing to help” his victims who were trapped inside the burning flat, with Fatimah and Naeemah dying in the fire and Mrs Hydara, 28, dying two days later, all from smoke inhalation.

Barrow, himself a father-of-one, was seen going to buy alcohol twice in the hours before to be walking his dog and smoking a cigarette on CCTV and later asked officers how “bad” the fire was following the blaze.

Hours later, while officers were conducting routine inquiries with neighbours, Barrow said: “I need to tell you something about the fire next door,” and held out his hands to be handcuffed.

In his sentencing remarks, Mr Ash accepted that “the defendant took a decision and acted on it almost straight away”.

But he said that Barrow had “taken a series of preparatory steps”, such as siphoning petrol from his motorbike into a specific bottle, and was acting “thoughtfully and deliberately in a calculated way”.

He said: “He started the fire inside the front door knowing that it was a first-floor flat and the front door was the only way out of the flat.

“At about 5am in the morning on November 20, when speaking to the Housing Officer, [Barrow] asked whether he could claim compensation from Nottingham City Homes if any of his belongings were damaged by smoke.

“That conversation happened at a time when Mrs Hydara and the children had been brought out of the flat and were at the Queens Medical Centre and were either dead or in a very serious condition.”

Mrs Hydara and her children had planned to move to America to be with Mr Drammeh (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)
Mrs Hydara and her children had planned to move to America to be with her husband (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

While a specific motive has never been determined, Mr Ash said during the trial that several reasons could have caused Barrow to start the fire, including the “grievance” over rubbish being left, anger over noise, and a desire to be rehoused by Nottingham City Council to be closer to his son.

Having previously admitted manslaughter, Barrow said during his evidence that he “can’t explain” why he chose his neighbour’s flat as a target.

He said he had drunk several cans of San Miguel lager and was “wallowing in self-pity” by the time he decided to carry out his lethal actions due to a “very, very low mood” caused by emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD).

He claimed he believed the flat was empty when he lit the fire and had no intention of hurting anyone, apologising to the victims’ family while in the witness box.

He also said he found fires “cathartic” and that fire “chills me out”, having first deliberately started one as a teenager.

Aboubacarr Drammeh said on Tuesday that his wife was an 'incredible mother' and their children were 'two angels' (Family handout/Nottinghamshire Police/PA)
The two children died in the fire and their mother died two days later (family handout/Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

But his EUPD also meant he gave “zero” consideration to the consequences of his actions, he said.

However, prosecutors said Barrow would have been able to see a light coming from the hallway and a pram left outside the flat before lighting the fire.

The jury – four members of which returned to watch sentencing on Friday – dismissed Barrow’s assertions within seven hours, unanimously convicting him of three counts of murder and a count of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered on Tuesday.

Jailing him for life, Mrs Justice Tipples said the offence “plainly involved planning and thought” and said Barrow’s alcohol intake was “the main reason” behind his actions.

She said: “Fatoumatta and her two small children were asleep in their beds in their own home.

“You knew they were all home, asleep, and you knew they would have no chance whatsoever.

“Seconds after you lit the fire you heard the fire alarm in the flat go off. You did nothing.

“Seconds after that you heard Fatoumatta screaming from the flat. You did nothing.

“Rather, you stood and watched the fire take hold, and you stood there watching the fire develop and spread for five minutes, which was an enormous length of time in the circumstances.

“You were well aware of what you were doing and I am quite sure from what you did that you wanted to kill Mrs Hydara and her children.

“I do not accept that you have shown any genuine remorse for what you have done.”

As Barrow was taken down, members of the packed public gallery shouted “Good” and “they should hang you”, with Mrs Justice Tipples extending the court’s condolences to the family of the victims.

Barrow was given a concurrent 10-year sentence for the arson charge, and will also pay a victim surcharge of £228.

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