Hun­dreds at­tend fu­neral of four chil­dren killed in blaze

The Guardian - - NATIONAL -

Four small coffins were car­ried into church yes­ter­day as the funer­als of chil­dren mur­dered in a petrol-bomb­ing of their home be­gan, watched by hun­dreds of mourn­ers.

Demi Pear­son, 15, brother Bran­don, eight, and sis­ters La­cie, seven, and Lia, three, died in the ar­son at­tack which turned their home into an in­ferno last De­cem­ber.

Hun­dreds lined the route of the fu­neral pro­ces­sion, but the chil­dren’s mother, Michelle Pear­son, 36, who was badly in­jured in the blaze at her home in Walk­den, Greater Manch­ester, was too un­well to at­tend. The fu­neral pro­ces­sion was led by kilted bag­pipers play­ing a la­ment, ac­com­pa­nied by drum­mers and fol­lowed by fam­ily and friends, walk­ing close be­hind four horse-drawn car­riages, each bear­ing a cof­fin.

Two white horses pulled each car­riage, with the names of the child on top in flow­ers and a por­trait photo be­side each cof­fin.

Pall­bear­ers wept as they passed a guard of hon­our of fire­fight­ers, who went into the house and tried in vain to res­cue the chil­dren from the flames.

Demi’s cof­fin and car­riage were multi-coloured, in mem­ory of the teenager who was fond of mu­sic. Next came Bran­don’s, an Avengers-themed cof­fin, adorned with pic­tures of su­per­hero fig­ures.

Then La­cie’s cof­fin, with a pic­ture of a pink My Lit­tle Pony for the girl de­scribed by fam­ily as a “lit­tle diva”.

Fi­nally Lia’s, the small­est cof­fin, with a pic­ture of the car­toon char­ac­ter Peppa Pig.

Michelle Pear­son’s mother, San­dra Lever, was among hun­dreds of mourn­ers at the ser­vice which was held St Paul’s Church in Walk­den, a quar­ter of a mile from their home.

She has said the chil­dren had all been “lovely, happy an­gels”.

Ari­ana Grande’s ver­sion of Some­where Over The Rain­bow played as the coffins were car­ried inside the packed church for start of the ser­vice. Dozens of peo­ple out­side lis­tened to a loud­speaker which re­layed pro­ceed­ings.

Rev­erend Gill Page told them they were there to cel­e­brate the lives of four “pre­cious” chil­dren for the short time they spent on earth.

The chil­dren’s killers, who had “ter­rorised” mother-of-six Michelle Pear­son, are all serv­ing lengthy jail terms.

The young­sters were mur­dered as they slept in their beds af­ter Zak Bol­land, 23, and David Wor­rall, 26, smashed a kitchen win­dow and threw petrol bombs inside one night fol­low­ing a petty feud with Michelle Pear­son’s teenage son Kyle.

Michelle was res­cued with Lia, who died in hos­pi­tal two days later.

Bol­land and Wor­rall were both given four life sen­tences for mur­der af­ter a trial in May and must serve a min­i­mum of 40 and 37 years re­spec­tively be­fore pa­role.

Bol­land’s girl­friend, Court­ney Bri­er­ley, 20, was jailed for 21 years for four counts of man­slaugh­ter.

Michelle Pear­son had made a se­ries of com­plaints to po­lice and her hous­ing provider, Sal­ford city coun­cil, ask­ing to be moved. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the In­de­pen­dent Of­fice for Po­lice Con­duct has been launched.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: JA­COB KING/MER­CURY PRESS

▲ Pall bear­ers wept as they car­ried the coffins of the four chil­dren to St Paul’s Church, Walk­den, Manch­ester

▲ Mourn­ers watch the fu­neral cortege and re­mem­ber the Pear­son fam­ily

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