Third person charged with murder in Walkden blaze in which four children died

(Originally published on Quays News, 14 December, 2017)

A third person has been charged in connection with the house fire in Walkden on Monday in which four children died.

David Worrall, 25, of Worsley Avenue, Worsley, has been charged with four counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of arson with intent to endanger life. He appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court today.

Worrall was in the dock for only a couple of minutes to give his name, date of birth and nationality. He will next appear at Manchester Crown Court tomorrow.

Two other people have been charged in connection to the fire. Zac Bolland, 22, and Courtney Brierley, 20, appeared at Manchester Magistrates’ Court yesterday accused of three counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder and one count of arson with intent to endanger life. The two will appear alongside David Worrall at Manchester Crown Court tomorrow.

Fire crews attended the fire at a mid-terraced house on Jackson Street just after 5am on Monday morning. Three children were pronounced dead at the scene and have been named as Demi Pearson, 15, Brandon Pearson, eight and Lacie Pearson, seven. Yesterday it was announced their three-year-old sister Lia had died in hospital.

The children’s mother, Michelle Pearson, was also injured in the fire and is in a serious condition in hospital. Two other people, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who were in the house when the fire started escaped.

Brandon, Lacie and Lia Pearson

Six people were arrested after Monday’s fire, however three were released on police bail.

Michelle Pearson

Tributes have been pouring in for the family on social media.

On Facebook, the children’s grandmother, Sandra Lever, said yesterday: “With a saddened heart. For past 38 hours our family has had to deal with tragedies what no family should have to go through. We want to thank you all for your support and kind words.”

There has also been a Facebook page set up for those who wish to send messages of condolence for the family.

Courtney Pearson, Michelle’s niece, posted on Facebook: “I will never forget you, you will be in my heart forever and always. I love you all so so much – sleep tight my beautiful angels.”

Emma Henderson, head teacher at Bridgewater Primary school said: “We are all shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred yesterday.

“Our school is very much part of this special community and understands the intense pain experienced at this senseless loss of precious life. We are consoling our pupils and their families and send our deepest sympathies and prayers to all those affected.”

Drew Povey, head teacher, Harrop Fold school, 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.

“In these darkest of times, we unite and support our students and their families. Team Harrop mourns alongside the relatives and friends of those whose lives were needlessly and mercilessly taken from them.  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.”

Fire crews from Farnworth, Bolton Central and Eccles attended the scene just after 5am on Monday. The front downstairs windows of the fire-damaged house were boarded up while a blackened window from of the upstairs front bedroom dangled loose.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Area Manager Damian O’Rourke said: “Firefighters received a call to the incident shortly before 5am and three fire engines were sent to the scene, followed shortly by a further fire engine. Firefighters arrived within minutes and were faced with a very serious and well-developed fire involving the ground and first floor.

“Knowing there were people trapped inside, firefighters wearing breathing apparatus immediately went in and quickly rescued five people from the house but sadly three of those people died. Two boys had managed to escape the house before firefighters arrived.

“Crews extinguished the fire and remained on the scene for a number of hours dampening down and ensuring there were no hotspots. A joint fire and police investigation is ongoing and crews are expected to be on the scene for a number of days assisting with the investigation.

“Our first thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved. Incidents as tragic as this are thankfully rare but these are really heart-breaking circumstances and the crew involved will be receiving personal support from our internal health and wellbeing team.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 8797 alternatively call 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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