Man jailed for manslaughter - Milton Keynes

09/06/2016

A man appeared at Luton Crown Court today, Thursday, 09 June 2016, and was given an extended sentence of nine years and nine months imprisonment and four years on licence for the manslaughter of a man in Milton Keynes last June.

Thomas White, aged 26, of Bibury Close, Wellingborough, Northants, was sentenced today after pleading guilty on Monday, 18 April 2016, at the same court, to manslaughter by gross negligence, arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, arson, theft x3, taking a vehicle without consent x2, fraud, possession of class B controlled drugs and possession of class C controlled drugs.

Officers were called to Trevithick Court, Wolverton Park, Wolverton, near Milton Keynes, at around 11.40pm on Monday, 8 June 2015, following a fire at a flat. Ashley Gillard, aged 31, who lived in the flat, was found deceased at the scene.

At around 10.20pm on the same night, police received a call reporting that a forklift truck had been stolen from the New Recycling Centre building site in Colts Holm Road in Old Wolverton. Ten minutes later, the forklift truck was seen in Earlestown Way, Wolverton Park. The vehicle was abandoned and White was seen to leave it. Officers found a mobile phone beneath the forklift truck belonging to Ashley.

During the course of the weekend prior to the fire, White took and drove a BMW belonging to Ashley's landlord. He also stole and attempted to use the same man's bank card at a petrol station in Northampton. On 9 June, he drove Ashley's Peugeot car before setting it alight near the flat.

At 3.21am on 9 June, a relative of White's telephoned police to say he had informed him he had been involved in Ashley's death and had set fire to the flat and officers arrested White shortly afterwards.

Elizabeth Scriven, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved a bizarre series of crimes culminating in the discovery of the death of 31-year-old Ashley Gillard at his home in Wolverton, Milton Keynes, last June.

"At about 11.40pm on Monday, 8 June 2015, police were called to a suspicious fire in one of the flats at Trevithick Court, Wolverton Park. Ashley was found dead at the scene and had been there for some days. At about 10.20pm the same evening, police had received a report that a forklift truck had been stolen from a building site in Colts Holm Road, Old Wolverton and abandoned a short while later in Earlestown Way, Wolverton Park. Thomas White, Ashley's partner, was seen to leave the vehicle and police found Ashley's mobile phone under the truck. It was later discovered that during the preceding weekend of 6 to 8 June 2015, White had stolen and driven the BMW belonging to Ashley's landlord, attempted to use the landlord's bank card and had stolen items belonging to Ashley. He also took Ashley's car before setting fire to it near the flat.

"White answered 'no comment' or remained silent during four police interviews, but later claimed that Ashley had fitted after taking drugs on Saturday, 6 June 2015, he covered him with a duvet and left him dying in the flat before returning a few days later and setting fire to it to cover his tracks. White had barricaded the door to the flat from the inside, disabled the flat's smoke alarm and removed the front door handle all in order to frustrate and delay the attendance and entry of the Fire Service. White also responded to messages on Ashley's mobile phone in order to imply that he was alive and well, and to delay the discovery of his crimes. White is clearly an extremely calculating and ruthless man.

On 18 April 2016, on the first day of his trial at Luton Crown Court, due to the strength of evidence against him, and recognising that justice had caught up with him, White pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence, arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, arson, theft x3, taking a vehicle without consent x2, fraud, possession of class B controlled drugs and possession of class C controlled drugs.

"We have worked closely with Thames Valley Police since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved. I hope that the conviction and today's sentence will in some way help Ashley's family and friends come to terms with this tragic event. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Craig Kirby, from Thames Valley Police's Major Crime Unit, said: "Thomas White has been sentenced for his involvement in the death of Ashley Gillard and numerous other offences and the Judge recognised he poses a significant risk to the public by finding him dangerous.

"While we still do not fully know the exact events which led to Ashley's death, Thomas White admitted responsibility by pleading guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence.

"What is in no doubt is that Ashley was a popular young man with a loving family and many friends.

"While no sentence can bring Ashley back to them, I hope the sentence will go some way towards helping his loved ones come to terms with losing him so suddenly and in such tragic circumstances."

Judge Richard Foster commended the police and prosecution team for their work on the case.