Died 18th September 2012
Kim Buckley (46), her daughter Kayleigh (17) and Kayleigh’s six month old baby daughter Kimberley died on 18th September 2012, in a fire in their home on the Coed Eva estate in Cwmbran, south east Wales. Kimberley was born premature. She had been allowed home the day before the fire.
Police said neighbours attempted to save the family, but were beaten back by flames. Up to 30 firefighters fought the blaze before it was brought under control and put out.
Carl Anthony Mills (28), of no fixed address, was arrested shortly after the fire and was charged on 3 counts of murder, which he denies. He was 17 year old Kayleigh’s estranged boyfriend.
He appeared before Judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams on 11th January 2013. The Judge has set a trial date of 24th June at Cardiff Crown Court.
Kayleigh had given birth to twin daughters six months before her death and was still coming to terms with the tragedy of losing one at birth when she died. Baby Kimberley had been brought home for the first time on the day she died after spending the first six months of her life in hospital.
The case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) because of prior police visits to the address. They will investigate whether Gwent Police could have done more to protect the family.
In a statement issued on the evening of 18th September, the police force said: “Gwent Police can confirm that, while we cannot comment on particular details of incidents, we are aware that police officers have attended 15 Tillsland, Coed Eva on previous occasions.”
A family friend Terena Mellor was reported to say “A couple of weeks ago someone got into the house and cut all the electrical wires and plugs. Kim said she had a threat to torch the house a couple of months ago.” Ms Mellor, described Kim Buckley as “a character, very loud and fun-loving”. She added: “This is such a tragedy. Kim and Kayleigh were very close and this should have been a happy time for everyone in the family.”
It is reported that Kimberley was born three months premature at just 1lb 9oz and was cared for in intensive care at the Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport. Her twin sister Angel tragically died shortly after the birth weighing just 15oz. A family friend said it was “touch and go” for a time for the baby because her birth weight was so low. Kayleigh visited her surviving baby every day in hospital for five months until Monday 19th September when the child was allowed out for the first time.
In a facebook message in the week before the fire Kayleigh said: “She is 11lbs 3oz. Getting excited now. Could be home soon but not saying until she is home. Don’t want to jinx it.”
Congratulations banners were hung from the family home and there was a little party for family and friends on the Monday night when they finally brought Kayleigh home. The house was set on fire around 3am the next morning as the family slept. People nearby report hearing Kayleigh screaming: “Help, us, help us”. Firefighters found their bodies shortly afterwards.
At the time of their deaths, friends of the Buckley family spoke of their shock at their loss. Rachel Speed, from Fairwater High School which Kayleigh attended, said she was remembered fondly there. “It was devastating today,” she said “Even pupils who didn’t know her particularly well have been traumatised by it. They’ve been offered counselling within the school.”
Neighbours described Kim Buckley as a “protective and proud” grandmother.
Following the deaths, Chief Inspector Steve Corcoran said: “This is a clearly a tragic and horrendous incident where three generations of the same family have sadly lost their lives.” He added “This has affected the wider community, they were well known within the community and their loss will be keenly felt and they will be missed. We are grateful for the co-operation of the community at this awful time. We are working with partners to ensure that all those affected will be given support.” CI Corcoran also paid tribute to two male neighbours who tried to save the family.
Detective Superintendent Pete Jones said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Kim, Kayleigh and Kimberley at this difficult time. I would like to thank the family and the wider community of Coed Eva for their patience and support throughout our investigation so far.”
Dewi Rose, head of operations at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Five fire stations and approximately 30 firefighters quickly arrived at the scene of the incident and fire crews worked hard to extinguish the fire and attempted to rescue the persons trapped inside the building.We are and will continue to work with our partners Gwent Police and scenes of crime to establish the cause of the fire.”
Torfaen Welsh assembly member Lynne Neagle said: “I’m totally shocked by this tragedy, which has seen three innocent lives lost in terrible circumstances. My thoughts are with their families.” She added that Coed Eva was an incredibly tight-knit community and that people would be deeply affected and saddened.
Local MP Paul Murphy added: “My heart goes out to the family and friends of those killed in this awful fire, and I’d like to offer them my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. I’d appeal for anyone who can help the police with their investigation to come forward.”
It is reported that Kayleigh Buckley met Mills in an internet chatroom while she was in school studying for her GCSEs and that Mills left his home in Manchester to move to Cwmbran. It is said that they were together for a year.
Note: This report was compiled from reports in the BBC and Daily Mail, MSN and Belfast Telegraph.