Jamie Barrow, the man accused of murdering his Gambian neighbor and her two daughters after setting their Clifton, Nottingham flat on fire, was on Friday sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of the offense.
According to BBC, Fatoumatta Hydara and her two children, aged one and three, were in their home on November 20, when Barrow, 31, poured fuel through the letterbox of the victims’ home before setting it on fire.
Barrow also received an additional 10-year sentence for recklessly endangering the lives of other residents in the flat. The court also ruled that the convicted man must serve at least 44 years in prison.
In the wake of the fatal incident, Barrow, who admitted to manslaughter, had claimed he was unaware Hydara, 28, and her daughters were in the flat when he set it on fire. Judge Amanda Tipples, however, said it was likely Barrow was aware the victims were indoors and did nothing to help when he heard Hydara screaming after setting their house on fire.
Tipples also said Barrow watched the flat burn while neighbors attempted to help the victims, adding that he later came back and acted like he was not aware of what had happened. However, he later confessed to police he set the victims’ flat on fire.
Hydara and her daughters’ cause of death was ruled as smoke inhalation. “It is only you who knows why you did this. The reasons are impossible to understand from your evidence,” Tipples said. The judge also said Barrow had drank 10 or 11 cans of lager before starting the fire, adding that he was in a “dark place.”
During the trial, Hydara’s husband, Aboubacarr Drammeh, addressed Barrow. He called the convicted man a “coward who knew exactly what he was doing and exactly when to do it.”
Drammeh was in the United States at the time of the incident, and had been working on relocating his deceased wife and daughters to the country. “Two little angels, their lifeless bodies laying next to each other. I held their cold hands. I wished I could switch with them,” Drammeh said.
“Only Allah knows why. I have to accept and prepare for the next chapter of my life. All I can say is I am sorry. I was not there, I should have been.
“I had a responsibility as a father and a husband to protect, that was my basic responsibility. I make no excuses. Because of you, and only you, I failed in my only responsibility as a father.”
Drammeh also said he did not know Barrow’s motive. “I am angry, I am sad, I am hurt, I am heartbroken. At the same time, I am grateful for them being a part of me. I am grateful for Fatoumatta and the kids, as they made me a better person,” he told the convicted man.
“I have no hatred for anybody in the world, including you. You, Jamie Edwin Barrow, acted like the judge and jury on that night and sentenced me to this. The only comfort I have is that you, as a person, cannot do this to anyone else in this world.”
Though Barrow’s lawyers argued their client’s actions weren’t pre-meditated and he was remorseful, Tipples told the 31-year-old that she did not “accept” that he had “shown any genuine remorse” for what he had done, BBC reported.
“You have sought to minimize responsibility for what you have done,” she added.
“The sudden loss of Fatoumatta, Fatimah, and Naeemah shattered a kind, gentle and compassionate family – and the senseless nature of their deaths has been incredibly hard for them to take,” said Detective Chief Inspector Clare Dean from Nottinghamshire Police.
“Barrow wasn’t brave enough to admit these murders, but I hope he does one day find the courage to explain why he committed such an atrocious crime.
“Whatever the reason, he is a very dangerous man. He isn’t safe to be in society, which is why we welcome today’s sentencing.
“While it doesn’t bring back Fatoumatta, Fatimah, and Naeemah, we hope it offers a degree of comfort to the family that the man responsible is behind bars where he can’t hurt anyone else.”