A 26-year-old man has been convicted of the manslaughter of hairdresser Ashley Gillard in Wolverton.
Thomas White, from Wellingborough, had pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter by gross negligence at Luton Crown Court.
Officers were called to Trevithick Court, Wolverton Park, at around 11.40pm on Monday 8 June 2015 following a fire at a flat. Ashley Gillard, aged 31, was found deceased at the scene.
At around 10.20pm on the same night, police had received a call reporting that a forklift truck had been stolen from the New Recycling Centre building site in Colts Holm Road in Old Wolverton.
Ten minutes later the forklift truck was seen in Earlestown Way, Wolverton Park. The vehicle was abandoned and White was seen to leave it. Officers found a mobile phone beneath the forklift truck, belonging to Ashley Gillard.
During the course of the weekend, White took and drove a BMW belonging to Ashley’s landlord and stole and attempted to use the same man’s bank card at a petrol station in Northampton. He also drove Ashley’s Peugeot car before setting it alight near the flat.
At 3.21am on 9 June a relative of Thomas White telephoned police to say he had informed him he had been involved in Ashley’s death and subsequently had set fire to the flat. White was arrested shortly afterwards.
Thomas White also pleaded guilty to one count of arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, one count of arson, three counts of theft, two counts of taking a vehicle without consent, one count of fraud, one count of possession of a controlled drug of class B, one count of possession of a controlled drug of class C.
He was charged on 2 October 2015 with one count of murder in connection with the incident. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence which was accepted by the prosecution.
Senior investigating officer Det Insp Craig Kirby, from Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime unit, said: “Thomas White has taken responsibility for his part in Ashley’s death. We may never know the exact circumstances of what happened in the flat during this weekend in June last year which resulted in a popular young man losing his life. While the conviction will never bring Ashley back to his loved ones,
“I hope it will go some way towards helping Ashley’s family come to terms with these tragic events.”
White is due to be sentenced at the same court on May 16.