Violent Husband Who Murdered Wife In A House Fire Sentenced To 32 Years In Jail

A man who murdered his wife in a house fire in Harlesden has been jailed for 32 years. 

Damion Simmons, 45, was sentenced at Old Baily on Friday, 8 October, to life imprisonment with a minimum of 32 years for killing Denise Keane-Simmons.

Simons also got 20 years imprisonment for arson with intent to endanger life and 12 months imprisonment for disclosing sexual images - these sentences will run concurrently.

He was found guilty at the same court on Tuesday, 31 August.

The court was told how Simmons intentionally started a fire at a residential address in Alric Avenue on Thursday, 16 April 2020. 

Denise, 36 at the time, was inside the property and suffered serious injuries. 

She was taken to the hospital, where she sadly died at 06:07hrs.

Damion Simmons and Denise Keane Simmons
Damion Simmons and Denise Keane Simmons

The two got married in 2019, and the marriage had broken down in the months preceding Denise's death.

According to police findings, Simmons started a campaign of abuse and torment against his former partner.

A day before Denise's death, an evening of Wednesday, 15 April 2020, Simons had posted an intimate photo of his former partner on Instagram.

CCTV showed him buying a can of petrol from a petrol station in Hornsey Rise at 22:31hrs.

Denise had reported the Instagram image to the police, who came to her house address to take a statement from her after midnight on 16 April 2020.

The officers stayed for an hour and left, leaving her in the care of her friend at the property.

The court was told how Simons boarded a bus to Harlesden where he hid near Denise's property until 02:10hrs when he was sighted on CCTV pouring petrol through the letterbox into the house.

Simmons took a panel of wood to smash a glass window before climbing into the property. A few minutes later, the fire had started was spreading throughout the address.

London Ambulance services and firefighters were called to the scene and found Denise suffering serious injuries in an upstairs bedroom. 

She was rushed to the hospital and subsequently pronounced dead.

A post-mortem examination carried out on 22 April 2020 gave her cause of death as severe burns and smoke inhalation. Further analysis suggested Simmons had poured petrol over her body.

Denise's friend, aged 60, who was sleeping inside the property at the time, was able to escape through a bedroom window and jumped to safety.

The arsonist and jealous husband was found lying in the garden beneath a bathroom window. The police believe he jumped from the property. 

He was arrested and taken into custody.

Simmons told doctors that he only started the fire to harm himself.

In a statement read out during the sentencing hearing, Helen Keane, Denise's aunt, said:

"Never in our wildest dreams would we expect to be sitting here in court discussing the passing of Denise.

"Words cannot really express how devastated we are; it is a pain that is indescribable and one that we will never forget.

"Over the past year and to this very day, Denise's family and friends are still experiencing the effects of her death. From shock, denial, anger to heartbreak."

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John from the Specialist Crime Command said: "While the sentencing handed down demonstrates the gravity of Damion Simmons' offending, I realise it will do little to ease the pain and suffering endured by Denise's family and friends.

"Denise was clearly loved by all, and this tragic incident has affected many people far and wide who knew her – my thoughts remain with them.

"This type of behaviour, unfortunately, epitomises extreme domestic violence, and I would urge anyone who feels they may be in such a relationship to contact the police or our partners who will be able to take positive action and provide the necessary support and advice."

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