Judge drops arson charge as it ‘adds nothing to the case’
THREE DEFENDANTS NOW ONLY FACE MURDER OR MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES OVER HOUSE FIRE
A JUDGE in the trial of three people accused of murdering four children in a house fire has withdrawn a charge of arson, saying it ‘adds nothing to the case.’
It means the three defendants now only face a murder charge and an alternative charge of manslaughter.
The jurors have previously heard that two petrol bombs were thrown into the home on Jackson Street in Walkden, Salford, at 5am on December 11, killing Demi Pearson, 15, and her siblings Brandon, eight, Lacie, seven, and three-year-old Lia.
Their mother Michelle, 36, was also rescued.
She remains seriously-ill in hospital following the blaze.
Another of Michelle’s children, Kyle, and his friend Bobby Jackson, both 16 at the time, jumped to safety from a first floor bedroom.
Prosecutors say Kyle had been involved in a feud with Zak Bolland. They allege the row culminated in the fatal arson attack.
After the completion of all the evidence in the trial, Judge William Davis told the jury at Manchester Crown Court that he was discharging them from considering a charge of arson being reckless as to life being endangered.
“The reason I discharge you from giving verdicts is because I have come to the conclusion it actually adds nothing to the case,” he told them.
The jurors were reminded that Mr Bolland had admitted that offence, although two other defendants denied it.
The judge said Mr Bolland had accepted he had thrown a petrol bomb into the house. To convict him of murder, he said the jurors had to be sure that he intended to kill or cause really serious harm.
If the jurors were not sure about intent, they had to go on to consider an alternative of manslaughter where a ‘reasonable and sober person’ would believe that ‘some harm’ would have resulted, the judge said.
The judge told the court Mr Bolland’s barrister, Peter Wright QC, had told him that it was not argued that his client had not committed manslaughter.
“If you get to that question, you are bound to convict Mr Bolland of manslaughter,” said the judge.
Zak Bolland, 23, of Blackleach Drive, Walkden, Courtney Brierley, 20, of Worsley Avenue, Walkden, and David Worrall, 26, of Worsley Avenue, Walkden, all deny four counts of murder and three of attempted murder. Proceeding
Forensics officers at the scene on Jackson Street, Walkden