Wellingborough man jailed for 13 years after ‘watching his lover die’ following argument

A Wellingborough man who left his gay lover to die was given an extended sentence of 13 years and nine months on Thursday afternoon.

Thomas White was in a rage because shortly before his boyfriend Ashley Gillard was taken ill, he had admitted he was HIV positive.

When haidresser Ashley became ill due to the cocktail of drugs he had taken, White ignored his distress and left him to die in his flat.

But a court heard this afternoon he returned to the flat several days later to set fire to it to cover his tracks.

White barricaded the front door with a heavy chest of drawers to frustrate any rescue attempts, disabled the smoke alarm and removed the door handle.

Then as the fire took hold he left the property by climbing 80 ft down a rope from the balcony of the third floor flat.

Today at Luton Crown Court White, 26, of Bibury Close, Wellngborough, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 31-year-old Ashley Gillard on the basis of gross negligence.

He also admitted arson being reckless as to whether the life of others was endangered as well as charges of theft and fraud, a further arson offence and two charges of taking vehicles without authority.

Passing sentence on him Judge Richard Foster told White: “You and Ashley Gillard engaged in sexual activity during the course of which Ashley was tied up. He had taken two types of drugs - Mephedrone and GHB. When the police came to arrest you a few days later what you had to say was captured on body worn audio and visual recorders.

“From this it became clear as to what had actually happened. Ashley Gillard had told you he was HIV positive. Whilst he was tied up he had a fit probably induced by the drugs. You told officers “I just sat there and watched him.”

The judge then said White had told the officers: “I didn’t untie him because he was fitting and because he told me he’d got HIV. I just though ‘**** You kind of thing and I didn’t really think about it. I should have tried to help him.”

The judge said when Ashley suffered his fit, White had only thought of himself and he was angry because of the possibility he had been infected with the virus.

“You intentionally did nothing to help a fellow human being in what was a life threatening situation,” he told White.

Ashley is thought to have died on the night of Friday June 5 last year at his flat in Trevithick Court, Wolverton, near Milton Keynes.

Over that weekend White had Mr Gillard’s phone and replied to messages he was getting to make make it appear he was still alive.

He also stole cars, a fork lift truck, and other property, and was seen on cctv visiting other friends, going to service stations, and even buying the the petrol he needed to start the blaze back at Ashley’s flat.

White was originally charged with murder, but the prosecution accepted his guilty plea to manslaughter by gross negligence.

Today the prosecution said they would be offering no evidence on the murder charge which was dropped.

Mr Gillard was found dead in his flat in the early hours of June 9 last year.

Graham Smith, prosecuting said: “The pathologist was unable to identify a definitive cause of death. He could rule out shooting, stabbing or blunt force trauma, and could confirm the man was dead before the fire was started.”

He said the two men had been in a gay relationship, and that night had taken illegal recreational drugs to a very high level.

That night White learned for the first time he had HIV.

Mr. Smith said: “The defendant was furious and got into a rage and turned the flat upside down trying to find medications that would confirm what he had been told.

“He was later to tell his brother that he knew his friend needed medical attention but he did not help him, and put a duvet over him to shut him up. He said at that moment he hated him and wished him gone,” said the prosecution.

After starting the fire, by pouring petrol on curtains and cushions, he went to his mother’s home and confessed to his brother and later repeated his account to his mother and then his father, who lived nearby.

He said he wanted to pack a case and leave the country but his brother had alerted police who arrested him at the house.

Mr. Smith said: “This is a very very serious gross negligence case. He could have acted to get help and he did not. He knew the man had ingested a lot of drugs and was vulnerable and at the time he wished him gone.”

In addition to manslaughter and arson he has also pleaded guilty to stealing clothing and credit cards from Mr. Gillard and another man, fraud by using one of the cards at Tesco, arson of a Peugeot car belonging to Mt. Gillard, theft of a generator, and taking a pick up truck and a BMW without consent, and two charges of possession of Class B and Class C drugs.

Before White was sentenced today his barrister Amjad Malik QC told the court it was a cocktail of drugs taken by Mr Gillard that created a toxic situation in his body which had led to a seizure.

He went on “Ashley Gillard died not by the commission of an offence, but by the omission to act when Ashley was in very vulnerable circumstances caused by the toxicity not only not only the drugs but a further drug he had been taking for erectile dysfunctional problems”.

The barrister said the news that Mr Gillard was HIV was a “massively provocative piece of information” for White.

“He failed to act because of anger. He didn’t want him to die,” said Mr Malik.

White was given an extended sentence because of the risk he posed to the public by committing further serious offences.

He was given an extended sentence of 13 years and nine months by Judge Foster.

White was told that the custody element of the sentence was nine years and nine months and the period he would be on licence following his release would be four years.