Neighbours tell court of horror at fatal flats fire

Simon Collins
Simon Collins
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RESIDENTS have told a court of their terror when their block of flats was set alight – killing one man and seriously injuring another.

People who lived in the block in Milton Road, Portsmouth, were woken to discover their building was ablaze.

Kevin Holmes

Kevin Holmes

James Vaughan, the head of a multi-million pound drug ring whose nickname is ‘Scarface’, is accused of starting the fire to scare a man who owed him money.

Clare Domm and her partner Stephen Ash had to climb out of a ground-floor window with their 11-month-old daughter to escape the blaze.

Miss Domm said: ‘I remember Stephen waking me up and there was shouting and running around upstairs. There was screaming.

‘We opened the door and I could see the smoke coming up the side of the door. It was quite thick.’

073754-331_FIRE_PMO_NEWS(MRW) 17/9/2007''// all pix taken at the scene of a serious fire in the early hours of MONDAY B17th SEPTEMBER 2007 on Milton Road Portsmouth - MRW // ''FIREFIGHTERS - use both ladders and a turntable ladder to reach the upper floors to rescue people from the multi-occupancy premises in Milton Road Portsmouth''PICTURES: MALCOLM WELLS (073754-331)

073754-331_FIRE_PMO_NEWS(MRW) 17/9/2007''// all pix taken at the scene of a serious fire in the early hours of MONDAY B17th SEPTEMBER 2007 on Milton Road Portsmouth - MRW // ''FIREFIGHTERS - use both ladders and a turntable ladder to reach the upper floors to rescue people from the multi-occupancy premises in Milton Road Portsmouth''PICTURES: MALCOLM WELLS (073754-331)

The couple shut the door and climbed out of the window.

‘I didn’t know what was going on,’ she said. ‘People were screaming so we just grabbed my little girl.

‘There was screaming and shouting from inside the building – the people that were trapped.’

Miss Domm said that Freddie Fields, the man said to have been the target of Vaughan, was known as a nuisance.

The blaze, on September 17, 2007, killed Kevin Holmes, 40, and seriously injured Karl Hubbard, who is now 33.

Remembering the moment he opened the front door of his flat, Mr Ash said: ‘I saw thick smoke in the hall way. It hit me like a tonne of bricks.

‘My intention was to help other people get out but the smoke was too thick.’

Wayne

Hughes, who was at home with his wife Sharon and 13-year-old daughter when the fire alarm woke them up, said: ‘My daughter was quite hysterical so I told her to stay in the front room.

‘I was walking towards the front door. I could see and smell smoke.

‘I opened the door slightly. Flames started coming through the door, scorching the wall. From that I knew I wasn’t going out the front door.’

Fire crews arrived just in time to bring the family down to safety from their first-floor flat.

Vaughan, of no fixed address but formerly from Brighton, denies manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm and arson.

He has admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine between June 2006 and February last year.

Two others, Simon Collins, 30, of Marlborough Drive, Burgess Hill, and Vaughan’s older brother Gary Vaughan, of Brook Lane, Ferring, Worthing, both deny conspiracy to supply cocaine.

(Proceeding)