Latest: Three-year-old girl becomes fourth victim in suspected UK arson attack

Update 5.10pm: A three-year-old girl has become the fourth child victim of a house fire.

Lia Pearson had been critically ill since she was rushed to hospital following the blaze in Worsley, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of Monday.

Her elder sister Demi Pearson, 15, was pronounced dead at the scene, while eight-year-old brother Brandon and seven-year-old sister Lacie later died in hospital.

The children's mother, Michelle Pearson, 35, is in a coma fighting for her life and is unaware they have died.

Ms Pearson's mother, Sandra Lever, posted on Facebook:

Formal identification of the children has yet to take place, although Greater Manchester Police have now named all four.

Before Lia's death was announced, Zac Bolland, 23, and Courtney Brierley, 20, entered the dock together at Manchester Magistrates' Court accused of the murders of Demi, Brandon and Lacie.

Zac Bolland and Courtney Brierley

Update 12.42pm: A man and a woman accused of murdering three children in a house fire have made their first appearance in court.

Zac Bolland, 23, and Courtney Brierley, 20, entered the dock together at Manchester Magistrates' Court for a brief hearing and were further remanded in custody.

The pair are accused of murdering Demi Pearson, 14, her eight-year-old brother Brandon and seven-year-old sister Lacie, who all died following a blaze in Greater Manchester, on Monday.

Both defendants are also accused of arson with intent to endanger life and the attempted murders of the victims' mother, Michelle Pearson, 35, and three other children who cannot be named for legal reasons.

No details of the case were presented in court as District Judge Khalid Quereshi said the matter was too serious to be dealt with in his jurisdiction and will be heard again tomorrow at Manchester Crown Court.

Bolland and Brierley - both wearing grey jogging bottoms and grey tops - spoke to confirm their names and give their addresses and dates of birth.

When asked what their nationality was, both replied: "White British."

Bolland, of Blackleach Drive, Worsley, and Brierley, of Worsley Avenue, Worsley, were in the dock for less than two minutes before they were led away by prison officers.

It has emerged that Bolland was arrested just a few hundred yards from the scene in Jackson Street on Monday evening, footage posted to Facebook appears to show.

In the video, several dark-clothed officers can be seen flanking a man with his face obscured by a grey hooded top as a number of people shout at him as he is led away.

Lauren Murray, who captured the moment in Grosvenor Road at around 6pm, said: "I was walking down the street to go home and saw the police driving down really slow and then they pulled up outside my house.

"The next thing, I saw Zak in a silver car so I got my phone out and started filming... Courtney was sat in the back of the car surrounded by police while he was led away, her face was just white."

Detectives continued to question a 25-year-old man arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of murder.

Two men, aged 19 and 20, also arrested on suspicion of murder were bailed pending further inquiries, as was a 24-year-old man detained on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Ms Pearson remains in a serious condition in hospital and is unaware her children have died while a three-year-old girl is critically ill and continues to fight for her life.

Two 16-year-old boys were also in the house but managed to escape before fire crews arrived.

Update 8.25am: Two people have been charged with murder after a house fire left three children dead.

Demi Pearson, 14, her eight-year-old brother Brandon and seven-year-old sister Lacie died in the blaze in Worsley, Greater Manchester, on Monday.

Police said today that a man and a woman had been charged.

Zac Bolland, 23, of Blackleach Drive, Worsley has been charged with three counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder and one count of arson with intent to endanger life.

Courtney Brierley, 20, of Worsley Avenue, Worsley, has been charged with the same offences.

They are due to appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court on today.

Police made six arrests in the hours following the suspected arson attack on the family home of Michelle Pearson, 35, and her children in Jackson Street, Walkden, at around 5am.

The children's mother is still in a serious condition in hospital, while a fourth sibling, three-year-old Lia, is critically ill.

Two 16-year-old boys - Ms Pearson's son, Kyle, and a friend - were also in the house but managed to escape before fire crews arrived.

Kyle reportedly tried to get back into the home to help family members but was beaten back by flames and smoke.

Since the tragedy it has emerged that the Pearson family had been living under threat, sources have confirmed.

Security measures were put in place at the mid-terrace home, including the fitting of a device to the property's letterbox.

The arrangements, known as target hardening, are generally used to strengthen a building to protect it in the event of an attack.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed there had been "earlier incidents" at the address and said the force had referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

It is understood the voluntary referral was in response to police contact with the family less than 24 hours before the fatal incident.

Ms Pearson remains heavily sedated in hospital and is unaware that her children have died.

The IPCC investigation is under way and is expected to focus on the contact between Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the family after officers were called to the address in the hours before the fire.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Miller, of GMP, speaking at press conference yesterday, said: "I can't imagine what the family are going through.

"My heart breaks for them, it really does."

Mr Miller said the force was "so grateful to members of the public who have come forward and given us information" and said there was a greater police presence on the streets as a result of the attack.

Emma Henderson, headteacher at Bridgewater Primary School, which Brandon and Lacie attended, said: "We are consoling our pupils and their families and send our deepest sympathies and prayers to all those affected."

Drew Povey, head of Harrop Fold School, where Demi was a pupil, said: "We are all truly devastated by the loss of precious life that our community has recently suffered. Words seem inadequate in these tragic circumstances.

"The spirit of Salford cannot and will not be crushed. We will work together to comfort and rebuild those lives that have been forever changed."


KEYWORDS: court

 

Most Read in World