Minimum 40-year and 37-year terms for men who murdered four children in blaze

Two men have been handed four life sentences each for murdering four children in a petrol bomb attack on their home.

Zak Bolland and David Worrall were both given four life sentences and told they would serve a minimum of 40 and 37 years respectively for the petrol bomb attack on a home in Walkden, Greater Manchester.

The blaze claimed the lives of siblings, Demi Pearson, 15, her brother, Brandon, aged eight, and sisters, Lacie, aged seven, and Lia, aged three.

Courtney Brierley, 20, who was found guilty of four counts of manslaughter was sentenced to 21 years in jail.

File court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook dated 15/12/17 of Zak Bolland, Courtney Brierley and David Worrall (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
File court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook dated 15/12/17 of Zak Bolland, Courtney Brierley and David Worrall (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

As the trio were sentenced at Manchester Crown Court Worrall, 26, and Brierley 20, broke down in tears while 23-year-old Bolland blinked and stared at the floor.

The court heard Bolland and Worrall were fuelled by drink and drugs as they filled two glass bottles with £1.50 of petrol bought from a local garage, stuffing the tops with tissue paper as they prepared the attack at 5am on December 11.

Emergency services at the scene in Jackson Street
Emergency services at the scene in Jackson Street

After the kitchen window of Michelle Pearson's home was put through, two lit petrol bombs were thrown inside.

Bolland hurled his bottle which "exploded" near the stairs, blocking the only exit to the ground floor and trapping the victims upstairs.

Within seconds flames engulfed the three-bedroom mid-terrace home on Jackson Street, Walkden, Greater Manchester.

Mrs Pearson, 36, woke up and screamed: "Not the kids! Not my kids!" and dialled 999, but she was overcome with heat and smoke before completing the call.

Demi Pearson
Demi Pearson

Demi Pearson, 15, her brother, Brandon, eight and sister, Lacie, seven, sleeping in a front bedroom, all died in the blaze.

Their severely injured mother was rescued with her youngest daughter, Lia, three, who died in hospital two days later.

Mrs Pearson's son Kyle, 17, had been involved in a "petty" feud with Bolland over damage to the defendant's £200 car, prompting a series of tit-for-tat attacks.

Brandon, Lacie and Lia Pearson
Brandon, Lacie and Lia Pearson

Kyle managed to escape with a friend, Bobby Harris.

Bolland, 23, was found guilty of four counts of murder and three of attempted murder.

Worrall was convicted of four counts of murder and three of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.

Brierley, 20, Bolland's girlfriend at the time, was accused of encouraging the attack and was found guilty of four counts of manslaughter, but cleared of three counts of attempted murder.

Members of the Pearson family sitting in the public gallery hissed "Yes" as the guilty verdicts were delivered, following around 16 hours of deliberation by the jury.