Man found guilty of murdering estranged wife in house fire

·3-min read
Damion Simmons (Met Police)
Damion Simmons (Met Police)

A man who murdered his estranged wife by setting fire to her home and pouring petrol over her body faces prison.

Damion Simmons, 45, was caught on CCTV pouring petrol through the letterbox of Denise Keane-Simmons’ house in Harlesden at about 2.10am on April 16 last year.

Earlier on in the same day, police officers had left the address in Alric Avenue. They were called by Ms Keane-Simmons, 36, and took a statement after Simmons posted an intimate photo of her on Instagram without her permission the day before.

During his trial at the Old Bailey, the jury heard the pair had been married since 2019. But the relationship had broken down in the months before the murder and Simmons had begun a campaign of abuse against his ex.

Simmons claimed he had only intended to harm himself when he started the fire but was found guilty of murder and arson with intent to endanger life on Tuesday.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, from the Specialist Crime Command, said:“My thoughts remain with Denise’s family and friends and I hope today’s outcome can offer them some degree of comfort, knowing that her killer has been brought to justice.

“Denise was clearly loved by all, and this tragic incident has affected many people far and wide.

“The actions of Simmons that night were calculated and the jury have come to the conclusion that he set out that night, not to kill himself as he claimed, but to kill Denise.

“His actions were both selfish and reckless. He cruelly took away Denise’s future and could have easily caused serious harm to the other woman inside the property and adjoining households.”

Simmons was caught on CCTV buying a can of petrol in Hornsey Rise at about 10.30pm on April 15, the jury heard.

He then boarded a bus to Harlesden and hid near Ms Keane-Simmons’ home.

Police left Ms Keane-Simmons with a friend just after 1am and an hour Simmons began pouring petrol through the letterbox of the house.

He used a panel of wood to smash a glass window before climbing into the home while the fire raged through property.

Ms Keane-Simmons’ friend, a woman aged in her 60s, who was also sleeping inside was able to escape through a bedroom window and firefighters were called.

The victim was found suffering serious injuries in an upstairs bedroom, the court heard, and later died in hospital.

A post-mortem revealed her cause of death as severe burns and smoke inhalation and analysis suggested Simmons had poured petrol over her body, the jury was told.

Detective Chief Inspector added: “This type of behaviour unfortunately epitomises extreme domestic violence and I would urge anyone who feels they may be in such a relationship to contact the police or our partners who will be able to take positive action and provide the necessary support and advice.”

A referral has made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in relation to the previous contact Ms Keane-Simmons’ had with police prior to her death. The findings of the IOPC’s investigation have not yet been published.

Simmons will be sentenced on September 22.

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