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Man sentenced to life imprisonment after setting fire to caravan

13 Jan 2023 3 minute read
Darren Smith was sentenced to life imprisonment

A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment after murdering a sleeping man by setting fire to his caravan.

Darren Smith, aged 43, from Knollbury, will serve a minimum term of 25 years for murdering Richard Thomas in December 2021.

Smith set fire to the caravan where Richard Thomas slept at the Beeches Residential Caravan Park in Magor where they both lived.

Attempts were made to save the 52-year-old, but 85% of his body was covered in burns and his injuries were described as “unsurvivable”.

Smith then went to great lengths to cover his tracks by burning his shoes and washing his dressing gown.

He told police he had been woken by the blaze but was later arrested and convicted in November last year.

Richard Thomas was murdered after his caravan was set alight

Detective Chief Superintendent Nicky Brain said: “Darren Smith has shown no remorse for his crime and actively tried to mislead officers as they investigated the circumstances of Richard Thomas’s death.

“The catalogue of evidence gathered by the investigation team and presented to the jury ultimately led to Smith being found guilty.

“During this trial the family have heard distressing details about their loved ones’ death and our thoughts remain with them, I hope the conclusion of the case brings them some closure.”

The family of Richard Thomas said they were “heartbroken” and released a statement following todays’ sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court: “Richard was a much-loved son, father, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, uncle, and a fond, firm friend to many, locally and much further afield.

“No one can adequately put into words the disbelief, pain and anguish we have suffered as a family following Richard’s death, a horrific period of our lives that is with us daily and will stay with us for the remainder of our days.

“We’ve no doubt the effects will last for several generations of the Thomas family.

“Richard’s untimely passing has left us broken, the man responsible will never be able to comprehend the impact that his actions and moronic behaviour is having on our family and Richard’s many friends. Our lives will never be the same again.

“There is but a modicum of comfort in the knowledge that this violent and dangerous individual is behind bars and will not be able to inflict the pain and heartbreak we feel, on another soul.”

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