UK
18/07/2013 11:06 BST

Carl Mills Found Guilty Of Murder Of Family Of Three In Cwmbran

Carl Mills found guilty of torching his girlfriend's home, leading to the deaths of three people
PA
Carl Mills found guilty of torching his girlfriend's home, leading to the deaths of three people

A jealous alcoholic who torched his teenage girlfriend's home, burning a family of three to death, has been found guilty of triple murder.

Carl Mills, 28, bombarded his partner with threatening texts and, convinced she was inside with another man, warned: "I will burn your house down."

Within hours grandmother Kim Buckley, 46, her daughter Kayleigh, 17, and granddaugter Kimberley, six months, died in the inferno.

The blaze ripped through the family home in Coed Eva, Cwmbran, south Wales, in the early hours of September 18, last year.

Thick smoke and flames quickly spread from the main porch to the stairs, cutting off all escape routes.

carl mills
Carl Mills started fatal fire after text threats to "burn your house down"

Frantic neighbours watched in despair as teenager Kayleigh was seen trapped at an upstairs window screaming for help.

Baby Kimberley, born 13 weeks premature, was at home in the property for the first time after being discharged from hospital that day.

Homeless Mills, the baby's father, was living in a tent in the front garden but had been banned from seeing Kimberley unsupervised.

The murder inquiry set up in the wake of the devastating fire which killed three generations of one family was called Operation Linden.

Headed by Detective Superintendent Peter Jones, of Gwent Police, it quickly began the exhaustive task of gathering evidence.

Phones, cameras, clothes and video footage were all sifted for clues and closely examined by police forensic experts.

In all, 148 witnesses formed part of the police case and 340 witness statements were recorded. Officers seized up to 900 exhibits as evidence.

Mills was arrested within the confines of the family's back garden a short time after the police arrived on the scene.

Those already there noticed that he showed no apparent emotion at the terrible tragedy, despite the death of his partner and new baby.

Police were immediately drawn to him by his unusual behaviour and learned that he had already tried to pick a fight with a neighbour.

Officers later recovered Kayleigh's mobile phone from the fire scene and seized three mobile phones from Mills himself.

They then discovered the massive message traffic which had existed between the pair as they sorted through thousands of texts.

Among them were chilling messages threatening violence, murder and arson on the family's home.

Mills, however, repeatedly lied to the police and tried to depict his relationship with Kayleigh as normal and loving.

He insisted that they were in love and planned to get married and start a family together despite his alcoholism and unemployment.

"Most of what we know of what happened that night is because of our investigation and not what he has said," Mr Jones said.

But the text messages he was sending at the time he claimed to be offering support told a very different story.

"It was very clear from the text messages that he (Mills) was making threats to kill. Threats to kill using arson. Exactly what happened," Mr Jones said.

He added: "Carl Mills is an incredibly controlling individual. You can see that often from the text messages he sent Kayleigh."

Setting a fire on the very night his own prematurely born daughter was first allowed home from hospital was no coincidence, he said.

Mills was chronically jealous and believed, on no evidence whatsoever, that Kayleigh was having an affair.

Before giving birth to his daughter Kayleigh was described as "infatuated" by Mills. He saw the baby as coming between them.

In the police case against Mills, he was depicted as a predator who set out to groom an immature schoolgirl who was 10 years his junior.

He encouraged her to sleep rough with him on the streets of Cwmbran and turn her back on school, using her as a sex object.

Mr Jones said: "I think that the facts speak for themselves. Carl Mills will be 29 this year and Kayleigh was 15 when they met."