‘I knew they was up to no good...’
WOMAN ‘HAD NO CLUE OF PLAN TO TORCH HOUSE’
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