Radio Sandwell News

Prestatyn fire deaths: Melanie Smith guilty of murder

2013-04-30 21:08:33

A woman has been found guilty of murdering five members of a neighbouring family, including three children, by starting a fire.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her nephew Bailey, four, niece Skye, two, partner Liam Timbrell, 23, and son Charlie, 15 months, died in Prestatyn.

Melanie Smith, 43, started the fire at Maes y Groes last October in a row over Ms Shiers' pushchair, which was left in a shared hallway.

She will be sentenced next month.

Smith was also convicted of threatening to burn another woman's home.

There were sobs from the public gallery as the verdicts were read out.

They came after nearly 15 hours of deliberation by a jury of seven women and five men.

Jurors heard harrowing evidence during the course of the trial, including Mr Timbrell's 999 call.

He could be heard shouting: "Oh my God, oh my God, we're going to die."

Smith was in dispute with Ms Shiers because the young mother-of-one left her son's pushchair in the downstairs communal hallway at the property.

She had previously made threats that she would set Ms Shiers' house on fire "with you and [your] kids in it".

On the day of the fire Smith drank 10 alcoholic drinks and set fire to the pushchair using a lighter. Ms Shiers and her family became trapped in their upstairs flat.

Neighbours made desperate attempts to rescue the family but were driven back by the fire's intensity and heat.

After he was rescued, Mr Timbrell told a paramedic Smith was responsible. He later died in hospital.

The building's landlord, Jay Liptrot, who attended the blaze as a fire fighter, told the court he had given Smith notice to leave the property a month before the fire after she was drunkenly abusive to Ms Shiers.

While giving evidence, Smith said she wanted to take a lie detector test and accused 21 witnesses, who testified against her, of lying.

Smith said she was "far from evil".

Speaking outside court, Ms Shiers' parents, Joy and Peter, said they were "overjoyed" with the verdicts.

Mrs Shiers, 45, who has attended every day of the trial, said: "I'm sorry for her [Smith's] family but for me and my family, we are so happy that we have got justice."

She said she "couldn't put into words" her feelings towards Smith.

"There's no reason for what happened and we're never going to get a reason because she's still saying she's not done anything," Mrs Shiers said.

"Anna was such a lovely, bubbly girl and Liam a very caring dad. Both of them were heroes because we know they would have done everything to rescue the children.

"The three kiddies loved each other, they played together all the time.

"They were our angels. Really, really nice people that will be missed."

Mr Shiers, 64, added: "It's been a long procedure, six months now, and we're grateful for all the help and support we have had.

"Nothing will bring them back but justice has been served."

His wife said they had yet to grieve for their family, adding: "We can't think of the good times because we were there on that night and that's all you think about.

"She [Smith] hasn't just taken Anna, Liam and the children, she's taken our way of life, our friends, our family.

"They should never let her out."

Mr Shiers said: "It's going to be very hard to fill the space that has been left in our hearts and in our lives."

Source: bbc.co.uk

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