Trapped man made 999 fire call before friend died

Taxi driver assaulted by youth with knife in Southsea

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A MAN who was seriously hurt in an alleged arson attack made a desperate 999 call while he was trapped inside the burning building, a court heard.

Karl Hubbard was with Kevin Holmes on the top floor of the block of flats in Milton Road, Portsmouth, when the fire was started.

Mr Holmes died while Mr Hubbard suffered severe brain damage.

James Vaughan is accused of starting the fire to frighten drug dealer Freddie Fields, who was also inside the building, into paying up money he owed.

Yesterday fire investigator Stephen Quinn told the jury Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service received eight 999 calls to the fire in September 2007.

One of the calls, at 00.44am, was from Mr Hubbard with Mr Holmes, 40, heard screaming in the background.

Mr Quinn said: ‘The deceased, Kevin Holmes, was exposed to hot gases and flames when he opened the door to his flat.’ He said firefighters had tried to go upstairs in the building after tackling the flames at the main entrance.

‘The stairs were heavily damaged by fire and unstable and they began to collapse,’ he said.

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)