Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Accused 'threatened to burn house'

A woman accused of starting a fire which killed five members of a family had previously made threats to "burn down" the home of a love rival, a court has heard.

Giving evidence at Mold Crown Court, Samantha Schofield told the jury she had been warned that Melanie Smith, 42, had threatened to burn her house down.

Smith wrongly believed Miss Schofield, the mother of two young boys, was having an affair with her partner Steve Clarkson, Miss Schofield said.

She added: "The night of the fire, it shouldn't have been that house, it should have been my home. People were telling me, my sister told me - Mel said she was planning to burn my house down. But I didn't think she was capable of doing it."

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her four-year-old nephew Bailey and two-year-old niece Skye died in the blaze in Maes y Groes, Prestatyn on October 19. Firefighters managed to rescue Ms Shiers' 15-month-old son Charlie and his father, Liam Timbrell, 23, from their first-floor flat but they both later died in hospital.

Smith, 42, who lived in the flat below the victims, denies five counts of murder. The prosecution say she deliberately set fire to a push chair because she was angry that Ms Shiers had left it in a shared hallway.

Smith shook her head and occasionally wiped a tear from her eyes as Miss Schofield gave evidence.

Earlier the seven women and five men of the jury visited Maes y Groes to see the remains of the property.

They also heard evidence from Norma Vaughan, the landlady of the Royal Victoria pub in Prestatyn.

She told the jury of an incident in 2008 when Smith, who had been banned from the pub, returned to the premises and made an arson threat when she was refused entry.

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