Mum Admits Causing Son's Death In Car Fire Near Winchester

22 July 2015, 06:03 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Tommy Sheldon Southampton Hursley car fire murder

The family of a five-year-old boy who died in Hampshire after his mother set light to the car he was in have spoken of the loss of their "beautiful little boy'' as the 38-year-old parent was detained under the Mental Health Act.

Tommy Sheldon suffered life-threatening 65% burns in the blaze in Merdon Castle Lane, Hursley, Hampshire, August 11, 2014, but died a fortnight later in hospital.

His mother Teresa Sheldon had been charged with his murder but she entered a plea of guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility which was accepted by the prosecution at Winchester Crown Court and she was detained under a hospital order imposed by the judge Mr Justice Dingemans.

Sheldon, from Dartford, Kent, also pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of another person, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and the prosecution asked for this charge to lie on her file.

Tommy's father and family said in a statement: ``He was always full of smiles and laughter, a loving caring happy-go-lucky beautiful little boy who we will always remember.''

The fire in the Ford Fiesta that killed Tommy was discovered by two passers-by and the emergency services declared the scene, a remote lane, as a major incident.

Police, fire crews and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance all attended.

Alan Beusmans was one of the members of public who managed to open one of the doors to get Tommy out of the car.

 ``To my horror I saw this young kid against the window pressing his face against it and I opened the door.

``Unfortunately I burnt my hand and I had to let go of the door and he fell out.

``He had his hands out to me and I am sure he said 'Dada', I don't know why, so I took his hands and I held his hands for about 20 minutes.''

Tommy was taken to Southampton General Hospital before he was transferred to a specialist burns unit in Bristol.

An appeal was subsequently set up by residents of Hursley in aid of the Bristol Children's Hospital where Tommy was treated.

Detective Inspector Simon Baker, of Hampshire police, said: ``I knew that had a terrible effect on my team, people were going home looking at their own children that night and thinking 'what if?'.

``How this affected the family of this little boy I can only imagine, it's absolutely terrible.''