Boyfriend, 23, is cleared of murdering his partner’s five-year-old son by setting family home on fire in petrol attack
A boyfriend accused of murdering his partner’s five-year-old son by setting the family home on fire has been cleared of all charges by a jury in just six hours after a month-long trial.
Aaron Medcraft, 23, went on trial accused of dousing the property in fuel before setting it alight following a row with his girlfriend on November 15, 2018 – but he insisted it was his girlfriend who did it after a ‘tug of war’ over a petrol can.
Emergency services rushed to the property in Rugby, Warwickshire, after the boy was pulled from the home by his mother ‘covered in flames’.
The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was rushed to hospital with horrific burns and died four months later from his injuries.
Medcraft, of Rugby, went on trial accused of murder, an alternative charge of manslaughter, and arson with intent to endanger life at Warwick Crown Court.
But after just under six hours at the end of a four-week trial a jury found Medcraft not guilty of all charges by unanimous verdicts.
Aaron Medcraft, 23, was cleared of killing the child in the fire in this Rugby property in 2018 after a four-week trial
The flame scorched front door of the house where the child died
Medcraft had insisted his partner has started the blaze which tragically claimed the life of her young son following an argument over money.
He told the jury he and his girlfriend had been having a ‘tug of war’ over the petrol can before the fire broke out. He claimed she started the blaze, and he had tried to race back into the house to rescue the children but ‘the heat hit me’.
Medcraft said he had left the house, hoping she would calm down if he did so – then saw a flash as he was two doors away.
He told the jury: ‘I wish I did get help, because I should have done.
‘I was scared. I was in shock. I wish I did get help, because I should have done.
‘ I should have gone to the neighbours or got the fire service, I should have done something.’
Kevin Hegarty QC, prosecuting, had alleged Medcraft threatened to kill his girlfriend and the other people inside the house before pouring petrol around the kitchen.
He said: ‘Then he pulled out a lighter and sparked it, igniting the petrol, and ran from the house.’
The mum got out of the fire before she rushed back into the blazing house and carried her youngest son outside while three other people escaped the blaze.
Despite desperate attempts by doctors, the boy died of his injuries in March 2019.
Warwick Crown Court heard that the 23-year-old deliberately started the fire in the kitchen because he was angry that his partner had been talking to a friend on the phone. He blamed his girlfriend
One witness said in police interview how they saw the woman throw a lighter to the floor of the kitchen, and added: ‘There was a big argument.
‘They were fighting. Aaron got some petrol and tipped it on the floor, and then she [Medcraft’s girlfriend] threw the lighter down on it.
‘She threw it so hard on the ground that it broke. She flicked it and dashed it down from a real height.
‘It broke and that caused a massive fire.
‘The lighter was kind of broken, so it stuck and the flame carried on.
‘He had petrol from his car in a green container. He took one of them the night before the fire.’
Medcraft was cleared of murder, an alternative charge of manslaughter, and arson with intent to endanger life.