Woman jailed for starting house fire that killed a mother and young daughter

15/03/2011

A woman from Corby has been jailed for starting a fire in a shared house in Milton Keynes in which a mother and her young daughter died.

On 5 September last year, Zimbabwean Barbara Zhanje (48) visited a shared house in Fishermead Boulevard where her former partner, Ananias Jumbe, lived. Finding he was out, and after he did not answer numerous phone calls, she set fire to his bedroom.

The fire took hold, spreading from the first floor bedroom in the mid-terrace to the floor above, where Bola Ejifunmilayo (29) and her three-year-old daughter Fiyin lived. They died from smoke inhalation and their bodies were found the next day.

Zhanje, wheel-chair bound since a car accident last year, was charged with two counts of manslaughter and one count of arson. She denied all three charges but was convicted after a trial at St Albans Crown Court, which concluded yesterday, 14 March. She was jailed the same day for a total of 12 years.

CPS prosecutor Ann Evans said: 'Barbara Zhanje could not accept that her relationship with her former boyfriend had ended and was determined to meet him face to face. She went to the multi-occupancy house where he lived in Fishermead Boulevard, only to be told he was out. Nevertheless she was let in to the premises where she waited in vain for his return.

'In her frustration she broke through a glass panel in his bedroom door and set fire to his property. This reckless act resulted in the deaths of a mother and her young daughter.

'Ms Zhanje had denied starting the fire that had killed these two innocent people, but a jury convicted her of manslaughter and arson. Judge Gullick at St Albans Crown court sent her to prison for 12 years for this appalling crime.'