A Crumlin man who murdered a three-year-old girl when he set fire to her Liverpool home in a revenge attack has been jailed for life.
Graham Heaps, 44, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court after he was convicted of the murder of toddler Francesca Bimpson on Monday.
He will serve at least 28 years behind bars.
The court was told that Heaps had set fire to the home of his former girlfriend’s relatives because he felt bitter about the end of their relationship.
The little girl was trapped in the burning property during the attack in December last year and suffered massive burns. She died of her injuries three weeks later.
Prosecutors said the labourer had poured petrol and a naked flame through the letterbox of the home when Francesca and her family were sleeping in bed.
Francesca’s mother, Eleanor Skelhorne, 37, suffered minor injuries and smoke inhalation in the fire and her father, Kieron Bimpson, also 37, suffered leg injuries jumping from a first-floor window.
Francesca’s sisters, Anne-Marie, then 17 months, Christina, eight, and 14-year-old brother, Kieron, were treated for the effects of smoke.
Mr Bimpson, a fitness instructor, had leapt out of the house first so he could catch the children when they jumped.
Terrified Christina, who was trapped in a front bedroom which she shared with Francesca, was not able to lift the toddler to the window.
Heaps had denied murder but was convicted after a three-week trial.
The jury of seven men and five women took two and a half hours to reach their unanimous guilty verdict after Heaps denied murder throughout the three week trial.
Mr Justice Henriques told Heaps: “Your shocking, wicked act of setting fire to a family home with four children asleep in their beds was, in my judgment, motivated by sheer spite.
“It was a vengeful and cowardly attack on a family of six in their own home.
“You knew the Bimpson family, you had been a guest in their home, you had met all the children, you knew they had a babe in arms and a child of three, you knew her name – Francesca.
“I have no doubt a significant volume of petrol was introduced through their letterbox.
“Your intent was, I believe, to burn, that is to kill, this whole family in their beds as they slept.”