Jailed for Eastbourne double murder

Anthony Scrase, 38, was today, Friday 17 September sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum tariff of 20 years, at Lewes Crown Court, for the murders of Sally-Anne Baxter-Smith and her 14-year-old daughter, Lois, in their Eastbourne home in September 2003. Scrase had pleaded guilty to the murders at the same Court on Friday 9 July.

Mrs Baxter-Smith and her daughter were murdered in a fire at their home at 5 Beach Road, Eastbourne, on the morning of September 6, 2003. Post mortem examinations revealed that they had both died from smoke inhalation.

The enquiry into their murders was re-opened last year and has been led by Det Ch Insp Trevor Bowles from the Sussex Police Major Crime Branch. The case featured on BBC Crimewatch in September 2009.

Scrase was arrested and charged with the murders on 27 April this year. He is already a serving prisoner, having received an indeterminate sentence at Hove Crown Court in May 2007, for three counts of assault on a police officer in Eastbourne in August 2006.

After the sentencing, by Mr Justice Keith today, Detective Chief Inspector Bowles said; "Our determination to establish the truth behind the awful and tragic events of 6 September 2003 never wavered over the years. Scrase has today been sentenced to life imprisonment. The minimum tariff of 20 years reflects the gravity of what he has done. He killed Sally-Anne and her daughter in the early hours of that morning by setting fire to their home. This was a dreadful and wicked thing to do and his actions have caused terrible pain and grief to so many people.

"Scrase has been brought to justice following a detailed and complex investigation, and he pleaded guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence.

"The dignity and patience the family have shown has been an inspiration. We also offer our thanks to the Crimewatch programme, because the emotional impact it had on witnesses was invaluable."

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