Unsolved Murders

Anthony Nicholls

Age: 56

Sex: male

Date: 7 Nov 2017

Place: Birchtrees Drive, Tile Cross, Birmingham

Anthony Nicholls died after a firework was thrown into his house and his house caught on fire.

He was rescued by the fire brigade after they were called out to reports of a fire at his home just after 11pm on 2 November 2017 and taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital but later died on 7 November 2017. The fire ended up gutting his home.

His inquest heard that a group of men had kicked his front door down and pushed an industrial sized firework into his house.

His house had been targeted in the days before the attack with his kitchen window having been broken with a brick and another window upstairs also being smashed.

Several people were arrested following the fire and his death but no charges were made.

  • 12 November 2017: 29-year-old man from Lee Hall was arrested.
  • 12 November 2017: 22-year-old man from Stechford was arrested.
  • 19 November 2017: 18-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder at an address in Ward End, Birmingham.
  • 19 November 2017: 21-year-old man from Sheldon was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder at Birmingham Airport at 4.15pm shortly after he arrived on a flight.
  • 30-year-old.
  • 31-year-old.

Following the arrests the police said, 'This is a challenging investigation but we are making good progress. Four people have now been arrested and we have lots of encouraging lines of inquiry. The local community have been supportive of our investigation and I would like to thank them for their cooperation. We strongly believe the answer to solving this case lies in the community and we’d like to hear from anyone with information who has not come forward'.

The police noted that they had recovered CCTV footage of three people heading towards Anthony Nicholls's address shortly before the attack, one of them carrying something heavy and that the three people were seen soon after heading back the other way.

The Coroner returned a narrative verdict at the inquest in December 2019, stating that Anthony Nicholls, 'died as a result of injuries caused by the deliberate activation of a large firework device', noting that that was compatible with 'unlawful killing'. He added, 'It remains a live investigation and we are still actively seeking those involved in the murder'.

Anthony Nicholls died from 60 per cent burns and smoke inhalation as a result of the fire that followed. His burns were described as 'unsurvivable'.

The fire brigade was called out and Anthony Nicholls was rescued from the property but he was put in an induced coma and didn't regain consciousness before he died.

His partner, a 50-year-old woman, who had also been in the house at the time managed to jump from an upstairs window to escape the fire and received multiple leg fractures.

A neighbour said, 'I heard him shouting, screaming for help. He broke all the windows to try to get out'.

When the fire brigade was called out they found smoke pouring from the house and said that when they climbed up ladders at the back of the house they heard Anthony Nicholls screaming from inside 'Help me, I'm burning up here!'.

The firework that had been used was later identified as a Colossus Finale 600 Series Compound Cake 1 & 2 which was made in China and which was a 210-shot commercial firework. It was said that the 210 shots would have taken two minutes to fire off duering which time Anthony Nicholls and his partner had run upstairs. It was heard that Anthony Nicholls and his partner had been sat downstairs at the time of the attack having a meal.

His partner said that after the firework was slid into the hallway that it was, 'fizzing and smoking and stopped at the feet of Tony'. She then said that it , 'went off setting curtains and other items alight'.

It was reported in December 2019 that Anthony Nicholls's partner had since died from causes unrelated to the firework attack.

The police appealed for anyone that had seen someone with a box similar to that that the firework had come in to come forward, noting that it was thought that the firework had been removed from its outer box before it was thrown into Anthony Nicholls's home and disposed of elsewhere nearby. They said, 'This would have been a large heavy firework that would have been difficult to carry some distance, so I would ask anyone who saw someone carrying a large box in the area last Thursday night to contact us'.

Anthony Nicholls was retired and had children. He was a former Land Rover car worker and a hardware store worker.

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