Wheelchair-bound woman denies double manslaughter

Barbara Zhanje
Barbara Zhanje
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THE wheelchair-bound woman accused of starting a fire which killed a mother and toddler had set fire to her partner’s clothes during a previous row, a court heard.

Barbara Zhanje was also reported to police several times for aggressive behaviour, said the boyfriend Ananias Jumbe.

“Our relationship was not all that good, especially when she got drunk,” he said,

The pair separated but in September last year 48-year-old Zhanje made a late night visit to the multi-occupancy house where Mr Jumbe rented a room on Fishermead Boulevard.

It was also the home of Nigerian-born Bola Ejifunmilayo and her three-year-old daughter Fiyin.

Zhanje knocked on the window of one of the other residents, who opened the door and let her in.

Mr Jumbe was out visiting his new girlfriend but Zhanje asked to wait until he returned.

Shortly afterwards fire swept through the three-storey house.

Firefighters rescued one occupant but Bola, despite making a 999 plea for help, was not rescued.

The bodies of her and her daughter were discovered 36 hours later.

Zhanje has pleaded not guilty to two counts of manslaughter and one of arson being reckless as to whether anyone’s life would be endangered.

St Albans Crown Court heard the fire had probably been started by a naked flame held against Mr Jumbe’s bed in his first floor room.

Zhanje, wheelchair-bound after a car crash, could slide up stairs on her bottom, the jury was told.

The trail continues.