Nottinghamshire pensioner murdered in house fire for inheritance, court hears

A woman has been accused of murdering her 77-year-old mother-in-law by breaking into her home and setting fire to her bed, Leicester Crown Court heard. 

Elizabeth Vamplew, who lived in Eton Court, Newark, Nottinghamshire died of smoke inhalation and severe burns in December 2021. She was rescued on her home after a fire had been reported to emergency services, but died shortly after.

Elizabeth was a smoker, and was known to smoke cigarettes inside her property. However, the court heard an investigation found the fire was caused by a ‘naked flame’ at the bottom of the bed rather than a dropped cigarette.

Her daughter-in-law Karen Vamplew,43, has been accused of her murder in an attempt to get inheritance money. Jurors heard about the 43-year-old’s financial issues, and how she had been using her mother-in-law’s bank account to fund her lifestyle. The court was told that prior to the blaze, Karen was seen in her local Santander branch after a £5 limit was placed on her account.

The defendant was spotted on CCTV cameras leaving her home in Newark at 00.35 on the day of the fire and parking near Elizabeth’s home. Karen returned to her car, running, at 1.15am. At 1.25am the fire started. Prosecutors accused Karen of setting fire to her mother-in-law’s bed while she was asleep and told the jury the defendant had a key and an access code for the home as well as a copy of Elizabeth’s will at her home.

Another witness told the trial that Karen claims that she ‘crawled into the hallway’ to try and rescue Elizabeth, but was told to ‘get out’ by the 999 call operator she was on the phone to at the time. Karen has denied she is guilty of the charge against her.

The Daily Mail reported that Elizabeth’s niece, found her aunt’s death ‘suspicious’. She said in a police statement, that officers needed to find out the circumstances behind her aunt’s death ‘because a lot of things just don’t make sense’.

Another witness, a family friend called Marion Gasson, also gave evidence at the trial.

She said following the blaze she spoke to Vamplew on the telephone about what happened.

Mrs Gasson said:

‘She said she went to Anne’s house and could smell smoke. She said she lifted the letterbox flap, heard Anne screaming and could smell strong smoke. She said she called 999 and that she was wearing her pyjamas.’


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