Girl, three, becomes fourth house fire victim
The youngster had been critically ill since she was rushed to hospital following the blaze in Worsley, Greater Manchester.
A three-year-old girl has become the fourth child victim of a house fire.
Lia Pearson had been critically ill since she was rushed to hospital following the blaze in Worsley, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of Monday.
Her elder sister Demi Pearson, 15, was pronounced dead at the scene, while eight-year-old brother Brandon and seven-year-old sister Lacie later died in hospital.
The children’s mother, Michelle Pearson, 35, is in a coma fighting for her life and is unaware they have died.
Ms Pearson’s mother, Sandra Lever, posted on Facebook: “Just letting everyone know they just turned life machine of on lia. She has passed away peacefully. My beautiful granddaughter go find your other 2 sisters, love you all so much.”
Formal identification of the children has yet to take place, although Greater Manchester Police have now named all four.
Emergency services were called to the family’s mid-terraced home in Jackson Street shortly after 5am.
Two 16-year-old boys were also in the house when the blaze broke out but managed to escape before fire crews arrived.
Before Lia’s death was announced, Zac Bolland, 23, and Courtney Brierley, 20, entered the dock together at Manchester Magistrates’ Court accused of the murders of Demi, Brandon and Lacie.
Both defendants are also accused of arson with intent to endanger life and the attempted murders of Ms Pearson, 35, and three other children.
No details of the case were presented in court as District Judge Khalid Qureshi said the matter was too serious to be dealt with in his jurisdiction and will be heard again on Thursday at Manchester Crown Court.
Bolland and Brierley – both wearing grey jogging bottoms and grey tops – spoke to confirm their names and give their addresses and dates of birth.
When asked what their nationality was, both replied: “White British.”
Bolland, of Blackleach Drive, Worsley, and Brierley, of Worsley Avenue, Worsley, were in the dock for less than two minutes before they were led away to custody by prison officers.
It has emerged that Bolland was arrested just a few hundred yards from the scene on Monday evening, footage posted to Facebook appears to show.
In the video, several dark-clothed officers can be seen flanking a handcuffed man with his face obscured by a grey hooded top.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) previously confirmed there had been “earlier incidents” at the address and said the force referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
It is understood the voluntary referral was in response to police contact with the family less than 24 hours before the fatal incident.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Miller, of GMP, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, said: “I can’t imagine what the family are going through.
“My heart breaks for them, it really does.”
As a mark of respect to all those affected by the recent tragic events within our community, we have maintained a social media silence for 24 hours as we mourn those who have lost their lives. 😞— Harrop Fold School (@HarropFold) December 12, 2017
Official statement... ⬇️https://t.co/wcb6o2y6LJ pic.twitter.com/LdXV6pWtvN
Drew Povey, head of Harrop Fold School, where Demi was a pupil, said: “We are all truly devastated by the loss of precious life that our community has recently suffered. Words seem inadequate in these tragic circumstances.
“The spirit of Salford cannot and will not be crushed. We will work together to comfort and rebuild those lives that have been forever changed.”
Detectives continued to question a 25-year-old man arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of murder.
Two men, aged 19 and 20, also arrested on suspicion of murder were bailed pending further inquiries, as was a 24-year-old man detained on suspicion of assisting an offender.