Youth guilty over four blaze deaths
A teenager has been found guilty of starting a fire in a bedroom wardrobe which killed four siblings.
Four-year-old twins Holly and Ella Smith and their two-year-old brother Jordan were asleep as the blaze took hold in Freckleton, Lancashire, while elder brother Reece, 19, was overcome by fumes as he went upstairs to try to rescue them.
All four died from the effects of smoke inhalation following the blaze on January 7 last year.
Dyson Allen, 19, was convicted of four counts of manslaughter by a jury at Preston Crown Court. He was cleared of their murders.
Members of the victims' family shouted "yes" in tears as the jury foreman returned each guilty verdict on the manslaughter counts.
The defendant held his hands over his eyes in shock and then wept as he leaned forward. Sentencing was adjourned until September 27 for the preparation of psychiatric reports.
Mr Justice Males told the court: "There must be no doubt that it is inevitable there will be a substantial prison sentence."
Allen was the only other person who was upstairs at the dormer bungalow when the fire broke out, said the Crown.
A birthday party was being held for the children's mother, Michelle Smith, at the address on the night of the fire.
The fatal fire began inside a wardrobe in the bedroom shared by the three young children and their mother. Three family friends were also in the house with the defendant who was a friend of another of Ms Smith's sons.