Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Death blaze woman jailed for life

Melanie Smith started the devastating blaze because she was angry the pushchair had been left in a shared hallway

A woman who murdered five members of a family, including three young children, in a fire described as "an act of exceptional wickedness" has been jailed for at least 30 years.

Harrowing pictures released by North Wales Police showed how the fire started by alcoholic Melanie Smith, 43, reached 200C (392F) as flames ravaged the flat in Maes y Groes, Prestatyn, melting a television set.

Mother-of-five Smith, who was jailed for life, started the devastating blaze because she was angry that a pushchair had been left in a shared hallway close to the front door of her own home.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her four-year-old nephew Bailey and two-year-old niece Skye were trapped in their upstairs flat and died in the arson attack on October 19 last year. Firefighters managed to rescue Ms Shiers's 15-month-old son Charlie and his father Liam Timbrell, 23, but they died in hospital.

After she was jailed for life, Smith, who had denied responsibility for the fire, was branded "despicable" by relatives of those she killed.

Steve Allen, the father of Bailey and Skye, told a press conference that he had been looking forward to seeing them grow up.

"Instead, one despicable person has taken them away," he said.

He added: "Every day that goes by we wish that things had turned out differently on October 19 2012 so my babies and my nephew Charlie would still be here, happy, playing and growing. We wish we could hear them laughing, we think of them every day."

Smith, who lived in the flat below the victims, wept as the sentence was passed by trial judge Mr Justice Griffith-Williams.

She was convicted of five counts of murder and one count of making threats of arson last Tuesday after the jury of seven women and five men reached 10-2 majority verdicts following 15 hours of deliberations.

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