Jury watches TV documentary on fatal flats blaze

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THE jury in the trial of a drug dealer accused of carrying out a fatal arson attack on a block of flats have watched a TV documentary into the police investigation.

Channel 4 programme The Force, which was shown in October 2009, followed Hampshire Constabulary as they investigated three serious cases.

The third episode showed the major crime unit’s investigation into the death of Kevin Holmes, whose block of flats in Milton Road, Portsmouth, was set alight in September 2007.

The television documentary has been referred to on several occasions during the trial at Winchester Crown Court.

But as a number of jury members had not seen the programme they were all shown it yesterday.

The prosecution says James Vaughan – the head of a multi-million pound drug ring, who was known as Scarface – started the fire to scare drug dealer Freddie Fields, who lived in the block and owed him £30,000.

Prosecuters allege that after the documentary aired Vaughan had bragged to friends that he had got away with starting the fire, which also left another man, Karl Hubbard, seriously injured.

Referring to the film Christopher Parker QC told the jury: ‘It didn’t look as though much ground was being made, there wasn’t anything that could be said about Vaughan.

‘James Vaughan was delighted.

‘He rang around his friends to tell them about the programme.’

He said Vaughan told one friend: ‘Yeah I know, they ain’t got anything on me.’

After he was arrested by police, Vaughan, 31, is alleged to have said: ‘I know what this is all about, that arson thing.’

He said he only knew about the case after watching the programme, which showed a number of other people being arrested.

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

Prosecutors say Vaughan himself is said to have been under pressure to repay his supplier £100,000.

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.