Salford fatal house fire siblings ‘killed following feud’

Composite imageImage copyrightPolice handout
Image caption Lia, Demi, Brandon and Lacie died in the fire and their mother Michelle Pearson was left in a coma

Four sleeping children were murdered after being trapped in their bedrooms when their house was torched with petrol bombs, a court has been told.

Zak Bolland, 23, launched the attack after being involved in a feud with the victims’ 16-year-old brother Kyle Pearson, Manchester Crown Court heard.

The four siblings, aged between three and 15, were killed in the blaze in Walkden, Salford on 11 December 2017.

Salford fatal house fire siblings ‘killed following feud’
Salford fatal house fire siblings ‘killed following feud’

Mr Bolland, Courtney Brierley and David Worrall all deny four counts of murder.

Mr Bolland, along with Mr Worrall, 26, removed a fence panel from the garden of the Pearsons’ home, smashed a kitchen window and threw in two lit petrol bombs, the jury was told.

One landed near the stairs, blocking the only exit to the ground floor and trapping the victims upstairs as flames engulfed the three-bedroom mid-terrace house.

Demi Pearson, 15, her brother, Brandon, aged eight and sister, Lacie, aged seven, sleeping in a front bedroom, all died in the blaze, which started at about 05:00 GMT.

“Their apparently lifeless bodies were recovered by the firefighters who attended and battled their way through the heat, smoke and flames,” Paul Reid QC, prosecuting, told the court.

Image copyrightPA
Image caption Demi, Brandon and Lacie all died in the blaze while Lia died in hospital two days later

Their mother, Michelle Pearson, 35, was rescued along with her youngest daughter, Lia, aged three, who died in hospital two days later.

Kyle Pearson, who had been feuding with Mr Bolland, escaped with a friend, Bobby Harris, who was also staying at the house.

He saw the light from his sister Demi’s mobile phone at the window before she coughed in the thick smoke then appeared to fall away from the window, the court heard.

Prosecution witness Abigail Toone, who drove Mr Bolland and Mr Worrall to the scene of the arson attack, described how they had been drinking and getting “loud and aggressive” in the hours before the incident.

At his home, Mr Bolland said: “Shall we do it?” and Mr Worrall replied, “Yeah, I’ll do it”, the jury heard.

At about 04:30, the pair armed with an axe and machete, got a frightened Ms Toone to drive them to a petrol station where Mr Worrall put petrol from a pump into a green petrol can, the jury heard.

Ms Toone drove them back to Mr Bolland’s house before Ms Brierley gave her directions to an alley near the Pearsons’ home.

After the attack Mr Bolland and Mr Worrall ran back to Ms Toone’s car and they drove away, the court heard.

‘All gonna die’

The firebombing was the culmination of a series of tit-for-tat attacks between Mr Bolland and Kyle Pearson, Mr Reid told the jury.

Mr Bolland claimed Kyle owed him £500 for an arson attack on his car and sent harassing text messages. Both sides broke windows in each other’s homes and Mr Bolland threatened to fire bomb Kyle’s house, the court heard.

The threat led Mrs Pearson to call police on 26 November and as a result the fire service fitted a letter box cover, Mr Reid said.

Mrs Pearson’s bin was later set on fire and the word “grass” was spray-painted on her house.

Jurors were told Mr Bolland and Mr Worrall visited the house four hours before the fatal fire and attacked the door before Mr Bolland shouted: “Watch, all your family’s getting it, they’re all gonna die.”

Kyle Pearson was “really worried” they would return so he got a door and wedged it behind the front door, Mr Reid said.

Mr Bolland has admitted reckless arson, a charge his girlfriend Ms Brierley, 20, and Mr Worrall both deny.

All three also deny three counts of attempted murder relating to Michelle Pearson, Kyle Pearson and Bobby Harris.

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