TRIPLE MURDER: Man accused of killing three people in house fire admits manslaughter

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One of the men accused of murdering a mum, her baby daughter and her friend in a flat fire has admitted manslaughter but denies murder, his barrister told a court.

Anthony Eyre has pleaded guilty to manslaughter - a direct alternative to the allegations of murder he denies - jurors were reminded yesterday at his trial.

Anthony’s barrister Michael Auty QC said his client had uttered three words in the case that had set him apart from the others.

“You don’t hear them but you know what they are: ‘Guilty, guilty, guilty’ of manslaughter,” Mr Auty said in his closing speech.

Anthony Eyre, his brother, Simon, and father Peter, 44, are accused of murdering Amy Smith, 17, her six-month-old daughter Ruby-Grace Gaunt, and friend Edward Green, also 17, from Belper.

They all died in the blaze at the flat in North Street, Langley Mill, where Amy lived with her partner, Shaun Gaunt, the trial at Nottingham Crown Court has heard.

Mr Gaunt, 18, escaped through a window with a friend.

Mr Auty said in the case of Anthony Eyre there was one issue for the jury to consider - what was his client’s intention at the time?

“And on that all he can say is, ‘I didn’t intend to kill anyone or cause anyone really serious harm, and he has said that by his pleas to manslaughter and not guilty to murder.”

Peter Joyce, the barrister representing 24-year-old Simon Eyre, said in his final speech to the jury that his client was not there.

Peter Eyre had previously told the court that he had no idea the fire had been started, and said he thought his sons were simply going to “smash the car up”.

And he has also said there was no intention to kill or cause serious injury, adding that he is not that “type of person”.

In the witness box Peter Eyre had said: “There were people in there. I’m not that type of person. Not a chance.”

Prosecutors have claimed the blaze was allegedly started “deliberately” with petrol at the door to the building - the door being the only means of exit and entry to the flat on the second and third floor.

The blaze was allegedly an act of revenge for an incident hours earlier involving Mr Gaunt. He had accused Aaron Henshaw, another son of Peter Eyre, of stealing his moped.

Mr Gaunt and his friends went to the Eyre address, in Central Avenue, Sandiacre, at 1.29 am that morning last June.

Mr Gaunt was allegedly shouting he knew Mr Henshaw had stolen his bike, the court has heard.

Peter Eyre allegedly threatened Mr Gaunt with a hammer, while Mr Gaunt, who had drunk a large amount of alcohol, smashed a bottle of beer against a lamppost.

There was some suggestion of someone damaging the windscreen that belonged to Peter Eyre, the prosecution earlier said.

The three men planned to set the fire and did a recce beforehand, it has been alleged.

Summing up is due to start today.

The trial continues.