James Tomlin was only 36 years old when he died. The police in West Yorkshire were at pains to point out that he had no criminal connections. The reason this was a key factor was because of what happened to him on the night of 15th August 2005. Someone decided that they would set fire to his house as he, his partner and their two sons slept.
The other members of the family survived by making an emergency call and following the call taker’s advice. They got low to the ground in an upstairs bedroom. The fire service arrived at the house within minutes of their desperate attempt to survive. A report later confirmed that only a few moments delay would have meant they all died.
Mr Tomlin was forced back by the flames and could not reach his family. He jumped from an upstairs window. Once on the ground he appeared to suffer a heart attack. Later it was established he died from the effects of the smoke and flames.
Their home on Prospect Grove, Shipley, Bradford was one of the small family houses on that sloping roadway. In the early hours of any Monday the area would have been deathly quiet. Someone poured kerosene through the letterbox and ignited it. That person or persons are still out there.
What does it take to go wrong in the mind of a person like that? The police could not establish any motive that would explain it. Mr Tomlin was an engineer and his partner was 1o years his junior. She was pregnant at the time and their sons were six years and four years old. So this was no clan that may have brought multiple possibilities into the investigation. How does a grudge against one person translate into killing a family with young children?
What is possible is that the home was not the intended target. We cannot underestimate the stupidity of callous creatures like the offender. Moronic would almost certainly be an understatement as to their intellect. Creatures like them act the way they do often with little rhyme and even less reason.
As in the case of Andrea Daly, Joel Urhie, Kenneth Nunn, Mary Budworth and the Shakoor family no-one has been identified as responsible to date. It is still an active murder investigation though so who knows. The arsonist might split from a partner today and they will go to the police or they might be turned in by an accomplice from then on any future day. We live in hope.