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Pair convicted of murdering mother, 37, in petrol bomb attack that also killed four of her children

Two men have been found guilty of murdering a mother in a petrol bomb attack that also killed four of her children.

Zak Bolland, 26, and David Worrall, 28, had both denied murdering 37-year-old Michelle Pearson.

Ms Pearson’s daughters Demi, 15, Lacie, seven, Lia, three, and her son Brandon, eight, all died in the blaze in Walkden, Salford, on December 11, 2017.

Zak Bolland

David Worrall (left) and Zak Bolland (right) have both been convicted of murdering Michelle Pearson, 37, after they threw petrol bombs into her Salford home also killing her four children

Zak Bolland, David Worrall and Courtney Brierley were jailed over the blaze after a trial in 2018

Zak Bolland, David Worrall and Courtney Brierley were jailed over the blaze after a trial in 2018

The horrific attack came after a petty feud between the attackers and the children’s older brother Kyle, 16, who escaped the flames with a friend. 

Ms Pearson was rescued from the house on Jackson Street before being placed in a coma, but passed away in August 2019 – 20 months after suffering 75 per cent burns.

Bolland was convicted of four counts of murder and three of attempted murder and was handed a minimum 40 year sentence. 

David Worrall was also convicted of four murders and three counts of attempted GBH and was handed a 37 year sentence.

A third defendant – Bolland’s then girlfriend Courtney Brierley – was found guilty of four counts of manslaughter and was jailed for 21 years. 

CCTV images captured Bolland and Worrall filling up a petrol can at a Texaco fuel station before arriving at the Pearson home in Walkden, Greater Manchester.

Michelle Pearson during her hospitalisation after the arson attack in 2017

Michelle Pearson

Michelle Pearson (pictured, right, before and, left, after) initially survived the horrific attack but was left with burns over 75 per cent of her body which she succumbed to 20 months later

Pictured: Brandon Pearson (left) and Lacie Pearson (centre) who died in a house fire in Greater Manchester, in 2017, pictured with Lia (right), who died from injuries two days later in hospital

Pictured: Brandon Pearson (left) and Lacie Pearson (centre) who died in a house fire in Greater Manchester, in 2017, pictured with Lia (right), who died from injuries two days later in hospital

The two men then removed a fence panel from the garden, smashed a kitchen window and tossed in two lit petrol bombs.

One landed near the stairs, blocking the only exit to the ground floor and trapped the occupants as they lay asleep inside.

Kyle managed to escape from an upstairs window but his four siblings, who were sleeping in a front bedroom, perished in the flames.

Younger sister Lia, aged three, was rescued from the house but died in hospital two days later.

Mrs Pearson, who was sleeping in the same room as Lia, escaped the blaze but was overheard screaming ‘Not the kids! Not my kids!’ as the fire engulfed the three bedroom mid-terrace house.

CCTV shown to the jury showed Bolland and Worrall at the address at 4.55am for one minute and five seconds.

Demi Pearson tragically died in the blaze

Lia Pearson who was killed in the fire

Demi Pearson (left) and Lia Pearson (right) died in arson attack in Greater Manchester, in 2017

The cameras recorded a flash then a larger second one from the petrol bombs, before they fled.

Neighbours ran out to help but were beaten back by the heat and flames as multiple 999 calls were made.

Three fire engines scrambled to the scene, the first arriving at 5.04am, with firefighters discovering Brandon face down on his bedroom floor, as if trying to crawl out, and Lacie directly behind him, suggesting she was following her brother to try to escape.

Regarding Ms Pearson’s death, both Bolland and Worrall had pleaded not guilty to murder, claiming they had been wrongly convicted of murdering her children, but admitted manslaughter.

Jurors delivered their guilty verdicts this afternoon following a three-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Chatterton, from Greater Manchester Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: ‘This was a heart-breaking case and I’m glad that Bolland and Worrall have now faced justice for the devastating death of Michelle too.

‘The bravery shown by the family and those affected has been outstanding – they have shown so much strength throughout both of our investigations.

‘Bolland and Worral planned this attack and threw their handmade petrol bombs inside.

‘The fire spread so quickly and the heat was so intense that the smoke alarms melted before they even had a chance to sound.

‘That night rocked the community and has turned the family’s life upside down.

‘Nothing can bring Michelle and the children back but I hope they can now be given time to grieve and come to terms with what has happened.

‘All of our thoughts are with the family who have been through such a difficult time and have had to sit through two trials and listen to details on what was a horrific and planned attack.’

Courtney Brierley, 23, had already pleaded guilty to Ms Pearson’s manslaughter.

Bolland, Worrall, and Brierley are due to be sentenced on April 21.


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