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Arsonist admits starting Manchester house fire that killed children

A man today admitted arson following a house fire in which four children died.

Zak Bolland, 23, Courtney Brierley, 20, and David Worrall, 25, are on trial accused of the murder of four children in an arson attack in Walkden, Greater Manchester.

Bolland pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered at Manchester Crown Court, but he denies murder and attempted murder. 

Brandon, eight, Lacie, seven, and Lia, three, died after the fire in Walkden, Greater Manchester

Michelle Pearson, 36, was unaware of their deaths for more than four months, as she was placed in a medically-induced coma after the fire broke out in December

Lacie

Mother Michelle Pearson (left) survived the fire, but it killed her young daughter Lacie (right)

Demi Pearson, 15, also died in the  house fire in Walkden on December 11 last year

Demi Pearson, 15, also died in the  house fire in Walkden on December 11 last year

Emergency services were called to the family's mid-terraced home in Walkden last December

Emergency services were called to the family’s mid-terraced home in Walkden last December

Brierley and Worrall pleaded not guilty to the same arson charge following the incident on December 11 last year.

All three are charged with the murders of Demi Pearson, 15, her eight-year-old brother Brandon, and their sisters seven-year-old Lacie, and three-year-old Lia.

All three deny the attempted murder of the children’s mother Michelle Pearson, 35, who was in a coma for four months after the blaze, and of two juveniles who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Demi, Brandon and Lacie all died in the blaze, while Lia died in hospital two days later. A trial is due to get underway. 

The defendants also each deny a count of arson with intent to endanger life after the blaze 

The defendants also each deny a count of arson with intent to endanger life after the blaze 

Brandon

Lacie

Brandon (left) and Lacie (right) both died in the fire, while their sister Lia died a few days later

Tributes were left to those who died in the house fire in Walkden on December 11 last year

Tributes were left to those who died in the house fire in Walkden on December 11 last year

The children were remembered with a series of flowers and an emoji cushion after the blaze 

The children were remembered with a series of flowers and an emoji cushion after the blaze 

A jury of five women and seven men were selected to hear the trial. Bolland, of Walkden, Brierley, of Walkden, and Worrall, of no fixed abode, are all in custody.

Before dismissing the jury to reconvene for the trial to start tomorrow, with Paul Reid QC opening the case for the prosecution, judge Mr Justice William Davis warned them to display ‘dispassionate analysis’ of the evidence.

He said: ‘It is a case of some significance. Keep an open mind. It would be very easy, once you start hearing evidence, to start to get a bit emotional about it. 

‘That is something you must guard against. Your consideration of it must be as dispassionate as possible.’

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