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Simon Childs found guilty of murdering mother-in-law Jackie Allen in West Malling fire

By Paul Hooper

The pest controller – labelled a sex pest by his ex-partner - has been convicted of murdering her mother after torching the family home.

The jury at Maidstone Crown Court returned guilty verdicts on murder and attempted murder .

There were gasps in the public gallery and cries of “oh no” from his family members.

Simon Childs (10896603)
Simon Childs (10896603)

Now jealous Simon Childs will receive a life sentence on Friday and the judge Mrs Justice Farbey will rule on a minimum term he will have to serve.

During the trial, the jury heard how Childs couldn’t come to terms that his marriage was over and his ex-lover Mandy had begun a new relationship.

On one occasion he attacked her at hospital and she recorded the conversation which was played to court.

Mrs Childs then gave evidence, telling told how she had blocked her estranged husband's phone number.

Jackie Allen (10896605)
Jackie Allen (10896605)

But on the day of the fire in which her mother died, she revealed she received messages from him using a different number.

"He was initially pretending to be someone else and were sexually explicit. I knew it was him.”

She alleged that one text was inviting her to a "sex party" with two men and detailed what sex acts they wanted to carry out.

"I received two calls when he was heavy breathing. I then called the police and complained, “ she added.

Police sealed off Spitfire Road and launched a murder investigation
Police sealed off Spitfire Road and launched a murder investigation

Childs, 52, of Mosquito Road, West Malling had denied murder and attempted murder at the family home in nearby Spitfire Road.

She revealed how she received another message which said: "We will be watching you, so do as we say. If you go to the police it will make things worse for yourself, so do as we say.”

Mrs Childs told how she later texted the number saying: "You are sick and you shouldn't be contacting me."

Childs later sent other messages to her saying, one which read: "You are my world."

Police at the scene

The part-time cleaner added: "The night before the fire and although I knew it was him it still concerned me."

She then drove to Pevensey Bay to meet a friend, Rory Clarke, in his caravan home but was then told that Childs had threatened to set the caravan alight.

It was then she received text messages from her home where her mother was staying, which read: "He's here. He's banging on the gate. I'm scared."

Mrs Childs told the jury "I started panicking" as she was told by neighbours that her home was on fire and her mum had been taken to hospital on a stretcher.

Police at the scene of the house fire in Spitfire Road, West Malling
Police at the scene of the house fire in Spitfire Road, West Malling

Jackie Allen, 65, died later from her injuries.

Another person inside the property jumped from an upstairs window but survived despite being injured.

After the verdicts, a member of Childs’ family said: “This is so wrong. We can’t believe it. It was just word of mouth. There was no evidence.”

Detective Chief Inspector Patrick Milford of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "Simon Child's actions were deliberate and calculated. He broke into the property knowing that Jacqueline Allen and another person were inside, before starting a devastating fire which spread rapidly with tragic consequences.

"Local residents bravely tried to rescue the occupants from the house, but the fire was just too intense.

"Today's verdict is unlikely to lessen the grief caused by this senseless loss of life, but it will at least hopefully provide reassurances that Childs is now unable to cause further harm, and is facing many years in prison.'

Mrs Allen's family also issued a statement, which said: ''There are no words to express the sadness and loss of our beloved mother and grandmother. Jackie would have given her last breath for us and she did that night. Our whole world was taken from under us. We are trying to rebuild our lives together as a family and now need time to grieve."

Read more: All the latest news from Malling

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here

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