THE RUGBY man accused of carrying out an arson attack which claimed the life of a five-year-old boy – who died an agonising four months later – will not stand trial until the summer of next year.
Aaron Medcraft had been due to attend Warwick Crown Court for a preliminary hearing after being charged with the Rugby youngster’s murder.
Medcraft, 23, of Matlock Close, is also facing three charges of attempted murder in relation to two other children, aged eight and ten at the time, and their 28-year-old mother.
The charges follow an alleged arson attack on a house in Wentworth Road in the early hours of November 15, 2018 – as a result of which Medcraft has also been charged with arson with intent to endanger life.
The woman and all three children were injured in the blaze, and the five-year-old finally succumbed to his injuries and died in March last year.
Medcraft, who is remanded in custody, had been due to appear at the crown court, but failed to attend for the hearing.
Nevertheless, prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith asked that a date should be set for Medcraft’s trial, in the anticipation that he will deny the charges.
He said he ‘may be being cautious,’ but that with expert evidence being called in relation to the fire and the injuries and cause of death, he expected the trial to take four to six weeks.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC indicated: “I have identified a trial date, which I think is the earliest date this court can hear it, of the 14th of June 2021, given the amount of work that is backlogged.
“By June of next year the best this court will be doing is having two Class One judges [those able to hear murder cases] sitting.
“If I don’t seize this date, I fear that when we move on to October, we will be in a worse position.”
That was accepted by Paul Mason, defending, who confirmed he would not be making an application for bail for Medcraft.
But in relation to the judge who would hear the trial, he commented: “Normally one would expect to have a High Court judge trying this, given the nature of the case.”
Judge Lockhart pointed out that if it was to be dealt with by a High Court judge, rather than him, ‘that may affect the trial date.’
Mr Mason also expressed concern for Medcraft’s safety in prison, where he said some threats had been made ‘in view of the nature of the offences’, but the judge said that was a matter for the prison authorities.
The case was adjourned until October 21 for a plea and trial preparation hearing, and Judge Lockhart remanded Medcraft in custody until then.