Friday 20 April 2018

Pair jailed for life for murdering family in house fire

Scott Snowden, 38, who been convicted of murdering a man and his two children in a fire at their home exactly two years ago
Scott Snowden, 38, who been convicted of murdering a man and his two children in a fire at their home exactly two years ago
Undated handout photo issued by Crown Office Communications of the damage to the stairs at the Sharkey family flat
Robert Jennings, 50, who been convicted of murdering a man and his two children in a fire at their home exactly two years ago

Catriona Webster and Paul Ward

Two men who murdered a father and his two children in a blaze at the family home have been jailed for life.

Scott Snowden, 38, will serve at least 33 years in prison for ordering the fire that killed three members of the Sharkey family.

His henchman, Robert Jennings, 50, who set the lethal blaze, was sentenced to a minimum of 29 years.

The pair were convicted of the triple murder yesterday after an 11-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Thomas Sharkey, 21, and his eight-year-old sister Bridget died when the blaze engulfed their home in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, on July 24 2011.

Their father, Thomas Sharkey Snr, 55, died in hospital six days later, while mother Angela, 48, survived.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Lord Matthews said: "You have been convicted of what is without doubt the most appalling crime I've ever been involved with in my professional career."

Mr Sharkey Snr suffered a long and painful death and his children had been "cruelly deprived" of any chance in life, he said.

Thomas Jnr had been a promising golfer and Bridget a "typical, smiling, innocent young girl", who, had things gone as they should, would not have been in the house that night.

She had come home early from a sleepover to be with her family and tragically succumbed to the smoke and gas along with her brother, the judge said.

Mrs Sharkey now has to face the "anguish" of going through the rest of her life deprived of the love and companionship of her family, he added.

The judge said Snowden and Jennings had waged a campaign of "violence, revenge, intimidation and cowardice".

Terrible revenge was exacted on anyone who crossed Snowden, he said.

A string of other attacks perpetrated by him had the potential to cause devastation and loss of life.

Snowden had "cowardly" recruited others to do his dirty work for him, making sure he had a "cast-iron" alibi.

If he thought he was safe from prosecution as others would not go to the authorities, he was wrong, the judge said.

"Those who failed to speak up at crucial stages before the events of July 24 bear a heavy burden of responsibility," he added.

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