Walkden fire killers seen smirking while buying booze for petrol bombs used in arson attack that killed four kids are jailed for life

Zak Bolland, 23, launched the cowardly arson attack after being involved in a petty feud with the victims' 17-year-old brother Kyle Pearson, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Bolland, along with David Worrall, 25, has today been convicted of murdering the four children and were both jailed for life and will serve a minimum term of 37 years.

Courtney Brierley, 20, Bolland's girlfriend, was convicted of manslaughter and has been handed 21 years in a young offenders' institution.

In harrowing CCTV footage filmed just hours before, cameras catch the trio buying beer bottles which were used to create petrol bombs.

Bolland and Worrall removed a fence panel from the garden of Michelle Pearson's home before smashing a kitchen window.



Two lit petrol bombs were tossed inside at around 5am on December 11 last year.

The second bomb "exploded" 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 in Walkden, Greater Manchester.

Disturbing pictures show how the house was left savaged by the arson attack.






Speaking outside court, Michelle's mum Sandra Lever said: "Our lives are just not the same without them.

"I was a nanny of 11, now I'm a nanny of seven. We will never again hear their voices.

"I hope that Bolland, Worrall and Brierley know they have taken away the lights of our lives.

"We are very happy today with the results and like to thank all those who helped us get justice."

Demi Pearson, 15, her brother Brandon, eight, and sister Lacie, seven, sleeping in a front bedroom, all perished in the blaze. Their mother, Mrs Pearson, 36, screamed: "Not the kids! Not my kids!" before being overcome from the smoke, heat and flames.

She was rescued, severely injured, along with her youngest daughter, Lia, aged three, who died in hospital two days later.

Kyle Pearson, who had been feuding with Bolland, managed to escape along with a friend, Bobby Harris, who was also staying at the house.

Bolland, Brierley, and father-of-one Worrall denied four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder relating to Michelle Pearson – who has recently woken from a coma – Kyle Pearson and Bobby Harris.

It is also feared that mum Michelle could still die of her injuries.

Prosecutor Paul Reid QC told the court today: "The prognosis is if she were to suffer another infection… there’s a real risk that she may not survive."

While she has been told what happened to her children, doctors say it is not clear if she yet still fully understands the horror of the arson attack and she remains in hospital.

However many family members were in court today to see the trio convicted.

 

During the trial, the jury of five women and seven men has heard the firebombing was the culmination of a series of tit-for-tat attacks between Bolland and Kyle Pearson, involving breaking windows, abusive graffiti and wheelie bins set alight.

Bolland, of Blackleach Drive, Walkden, has admitted throwing the second petrol bomb but denies he intended to harm anyone and told the jury he believed the house was unoccupied at the time.

Worrall, of Coronation Street, Swinton, Salford, denies throwing any petrol bombs and though he knew children were inside, he believed they had gone to set a wheelie bin alight, he said.

Brierley, of Worsley Avenue, Walkden, also told the jury she had no idea a house was to be firebombed and denied encouraging her "controlling" boyfriend.




The prosecution alleged that all three were in it together and each have tried to minimise or shift blame, but all are guilty of murder.

Trial judge Mr Justice William Davis told the jury: "I think I said at the start, this was a case that's bound to raise emotions and plainly has done.

"Of course you will have at the back of your mind the result of all this, but your assessment of the evidence must be dispassionate."

In a joint statement at the time of the attack, the heartbroken Pearson family said: “Demi, such a beautiful young lady with so many friends. She was like another mum to the younger ones, such a star.

“Brandon was going to be the next Stephen Hawking, he was so clever.


“Brandon and Lacie were like twins, they were close in age, but had an even closer bond.

Around 20 members of the Pearson family have been present in court.



 

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