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Family of parents whose four children died in horrific fire speak out after couple are arrested

The grandmother of four children killed in a 2017 arson has sent a heartfelt message to the parents of four youngsters killed in a house fire earlier this week – as family insist they did nothing wrong. 

Natalie Unitt, 24, and her partner Chris Moulton, 28, were arrested on suspicious of gross negligence manslaughter yesterday. 

Both leapt from the first-floor window with their youngest child, Jack, two, after the an inferno broke out at their home in Stafford on Tuesday.

The couple’s sons, Olly, three, and Keegan, six, died alongside their daughter Tilly, four, and Miss Unitt’s eldest child, Riley, eight, who was from an earlier relationship. 

Parents Natalie Unitt and Chris Moulton sit behind children killed in fire (left to right) Tilly, who was four, Keegan, who was six, Olly, who was three, and Riley, who was eight. The picture is from 2016 before they had baby Jack, now two, who survived the blaze with his parents

Last night, Sandra Lever, 57, who lost grandchildren Demi, 15, Brandon, eight, Lacie, seven, and three-year-old Lia when their family home was petrol bombed, sent a message to the heartbroken family of Ms Unitt and Mr Moulton

Last night, Sandra Lever, 57, who lost grandchildren Demi, 15, Brandon, eight, Lacie, seven, and three-year-old Lia when their family home was petrol bombed, sent a message to the heartbroken family of Ms Unitt and Mr Moulton

Brandon Pearson (left) and Lacie Pearson (centre) who died in a house fire in Walkden, Greater Manchester, on December 11, 2017, pictured with Lia (right), who later died in hospital

Brandon Pearson (left) and Lacie Pearson (centre) who died in a house fire in Walkden, Greater Manchester, on December 11, 2017, pictured with Lia (right), who later died in hospital

Michelle Pearson is seen in her recent message to the vigil;

Mrs Pearson in an undated photo

Their mother Michelle Pearson (seen on the left in a recent message; and right, in an undated family photo) was put into an induced coma after the attack on December 11 last year, which killed Demi, 15, Brandon, eight, and his sisters, Lacie, seven, and Lia, three

Demi was found on a bunk bed, hands stretched out to the open window, following the devastating fire at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester in 2017

Demi was found on a bunk bed, hands stretched out to the open window, following the devastating fire at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester in 2017

Last night, it emerged Sandra Lever, 57, who lost grandchildren Demi, 15, Brandon, eight, Lacie, seven, and three-year-old Lia when their family home was petrol bombed, had sent a message to the heartbroken family of Ms Unitt and Mr Moulton. 

She told Mirror Online: ‘The Pearson family sends all our love and sympathy at this heartbreaking time. Four more beautiful angels have gained their wings.’

Their mother Michelle Pearson was placed in a coma after suffering 75 per cent burns to her body after trying to save her children in December, 2017.

Speaking to a vigil in December marking a year since her children’s deaths, she thanked the emergency services and her neighbours, who have provided donations to help the family get back on their feet. 

Left to right: Keegan Unitt, six, Tilly Rose Unit, four, Olly Unitt, three, and Riley Holt, died in the blaze in Stafford in the early hours of yesterday morning

Left to right: Keegan Unitt, six, Tilly Rose Unit, four, Olly Unitt, three, and Riley Holt, died in the blaze in Stafford in the early hours of yesterday morning

The children's mother has been named locally as mother-of-five Natalie Unitt

Ms Unitt and her partner Chris Moulton (pictured together) are being treated in hospital with one child

The children’s mother is Natalie Unitt. She and her partner Chris Moulton (right) were treated in hospital after escaping the fire by jumping out of a window

Police continue to question Ms Unitt and Mr Moulton today on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence – but family insist they have done nothing wrong.

One family member, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Sun Online: ‘They’re grieving for the kids they’ve lost, they’re just out of hospital and now banged up in a cell. We don’t understand why.

‘Their baby got pulled out alive and now he’s traumatised. His three brothers and sister have gone and he just wants to be comforted by his mum and dad.’    

Mr Moulton is understood to have received treatment for burns and Ms Unitt for smoke inhalation. 

It remains unclear what caused the fire but early suggestions have pointed to a ‘gas explosion’, which could have been sparked by a faulty boiler. 

Firefighters, police and ambulance crews scrambled to the house in Stafford at around 2.40am, on Tuesday. 

Witnesses reportedly heard mum-of-five Natalie screaming: ‘My babies, my babies!’ as the fire tore through the family home.

Staffordshire Police confirmed the man and woman were arrested at 1.30pm today. 

Part of the roof collapsed, with the windows smashed and the inside appearing to have been blackened by smoke.

A fundraising page set up for the family of the four children has since reached over £28,500 – with more than 1,800 people donating money.

A spokeswoman for South Staffordshire Coroner’s Court said the post-mortem examinations of the four children have not yet been completed but their file had been passed to the coroner.

Emotional tributes have been paid to the youngsters, with teachers describing them as ‘bright, happy, loving and lively’.

 Firefighters and police officers formed a guard of honour for the children as they were removed from the scene in Stafford by private ambulances

 Firefighters and police officers formed a guard of honour for the children as they were removed from the scene in Stafford by private ambulances

Police say four children died in the blaze and two adults, believed to be the children’s parents, were rushed to hospital along with another child

In a statement, Staffordshire Police said: ‘Officers from Staffordshire Police have made two arrests this afternoon following a house fire in Stafford on Tuesday. 

‘Following an update from investigators into the probable cause of the fire we have arrested a 24-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence.

‘The arrests were made at around 1.30pm. The man and woman are in custody. This incident has had a huge impact on the community and we understand there will be confusion and a demand for information.

‘However, we would urge people not to speculate as to what may have happened and appeal for patience as the investigation continues. We will provide further updates as soon as we are able to.’

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Rob Barber said today: ‘Our fire investigation team, working with forensic experts from the police, have been faced with extremely challenging conditions. We will continue to assist the police with their ongoing investigation.’ 

Nicola Glover, headteacher of Castlechurch Primary School where three of the four dead children went, said staff and pupils were ‘absolutely devastated’. 

She described Riley as a ‘very confident, excitable member of school who came every day full of enthusiasm’, while Tilly, who attended the nursery, was a ‘happy little girl’ who ‘loved to read stories, dress up and paint’.

Mrs Glover said Olly, who was also at nursery, was a ‘happy, loving boy who loved cuddles’. 

Kim Ellis, head at Marshlands School, where Keegan was a pupil, said he was ‘full of fun and mischief with a really endearing smile’. 

Police officer and firefighters watch as a private ambulance removes the bodies of the children who died in the horrific fire

Police officer and firefighters watch as a private ambulance removes the bodies of the children who died in the horrific fire

Grieving teachers say children had ‘infectious giggles’ and loved stories and mischief

The teachers of the four children killed say the schools have been left heartbroken by the tragic events of this morning.

Nicola Glover, head teacher at Castlechurch Primary School, said: ‘Our entire school community is absolutely devastated by this news.

‘Riley was a very confident, excitable member of school who came every day full of enthusiasm.

‘He was a caring friend who hated to see anyone hurt or upset and would do his best to help or cheer them up.

‘Riley had a great sense of humour and an infectious giggle. He was a very bright and articulate boy who showed interest in all areas and was always keen to ask lots of questions.’

Mrs Glover added: ‘Tilly was a happy little girl who loved coming to nursery.

‘She was a friendly and caring child who loved to read stories, dress up and paint. Tilly was always proud of her achievements.

‘Olly was a happy, loving boy who loved cuddles. He was always happy to come to nursery and loved to be in the role play area with the dolls.’

Kim Ellis, head teacher at Marshlands Special School where Keegan was a pupil, said: ‘Keegan was lively, full of fun and mischief with a really endearing smile.

‘He loved school and everyone who worked with him loved him. We were all proud of him and the progress that he had made. It is very hard to accept what has happened. ‘

Both schools said they are offering support to help staff and fellow pupils following the blaze.

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