Judge drops ar­son charge as it ‘adds noth­ing to the case’


Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By JOHN SCHEERHOUT john.scheerhout@men-news.co.uk @john­scheer­hout

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

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