‘I knew they was up to no good...’


Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By AN­DREW BARD­S­LEY

A WOMAN ac­cused of help­ing two men set a house fire which left four chil­dren dead says she knew her co-ac­cused were ‘up to no good,’ a court heard.

But Courtney Bri­er­ley, 20, told a jury she had ‘no clue’ of an al­leged plan to torch a home in Walk­den, Sal­ford.

Ms Bri­er­ley con­tin­ued giv­ing ev­i­dence at the Manch­ester Crown Court trial where she, her boyfriend Zak Bol­land, 23, and David Wor­rall, 26, all deny four counts of mur­der and three of at­tempted mur­der.

Mr Bol­land, of Black­leach Drive, Walk­den, ad­mits ar­son be­ing reck­less as to life be­ing en­dan­gered, but Mr Wor­rall, of Wors­ley Avenue, Walk­den, and Ms Bri­er­ley, also of Wors­ley Avenue, Walk­den, have both pleaded not guilty to the same charge.

The trial has heard how two petrol bombs were thrown into the prop­erty on Jack­son Street, killing Demi Pear­son, 15, and her sib­lings Bran­don, eight, La­cie, seven, and three-year-old Lia. The chil­dren’s mother, Michelle, 36, was res­cued fol­low­ing the De­cem­ber 11 in­ci­dent, but re­mains se­ri­ously ill in hospi­tal.

Another sib­ling, Kyle Pear­son, and his friend, Bobby Har­ris, both 16 at the time, jumped to safety from a first-floor bed­room. It’s al­leged that Kyle had been in­volved in a feud with Mr Bol­land which cul­mi­nated in the fa­tal ar­son at­tack.

The court heard that on the night of the fire, she went with Mr Bol­land and Mr Wor­rall to a petrol sta­tion, where petrol was bought in a jerry can. The car parked down a side street to avoid CCTV, ju­rors heard, and Ms Bri­er­ley said she re­minded them to ‘keep their hoods up.’

When asked by her bar­ris­ter An­drew Hall QC why she said that, Ms Bri­er­ley replied: “I knew he didn’t want his face to be seen.”

“Did you know at that point what he (Mr Bol­land) was go­ing to do?,” Mr Hall asked. “No, not at all,” Ms Bri­er­ley replied. “I knew they was up to no good be­cause they didn’t park where there was CCTV,” she added.

She said she thought the petrol might be for the car if it ran out.

They re­turned to Mr Bol­land’s home, where prose­cu­tors say the petrol bombs were pre­pared. Af­ter this, Mr Bol­land di­rected another woman to drive the car to Jack­son Street, ju­rors heard. When they got back in the car, she heard petrol had been thrown or poured ‘through Michelle’s window.’ Mr Hall says the pros­e­cu­tion case is that Ms Bri­er­ley ‘knew all along’ of the ‘plan.’ “That’s not true,” Ms Bri­er­ley said. “I don’t care what he (Mr Bol­land) would have done to me, I wouldn’t have let him do that.”

Ques­tion­ing her, Pe­ter Wright QC, for Mr Bol­land, said: “You in­volved your­self in those ter­ri­ble events which led sadly to the deaths of all those chil­dren and the in­juries to Michelle Pear­son and oth­ers.”

Ms Bri­er­ley replied: “No. I had no clue what he was about to do, what he was plan­ning or what his in­ten­tions were.”


Foren­sics of­fi­cers at the scene of the fire

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