It was a terrible Fylde coast tragedy which appalled and shocked the UK.
When emergency services were called to reports of a house fire on Lytham Road, Freckleton, just before 11.30pm on Saturday January 7, 2012, they could hardly have imagined the horror they would find.
Four people, 19-year-old Reece Smith, four-year-old twin girls Holly and Ella Smith and Jordan Smith, aged two, tragically died from smoke inhalation.
It sparked a massive investigation which eventually led to the conviction of Dyson Allen, 20, on four counts of manslaughter in respect of Reece, Holly, Ella and Jordan Smith for which he received four life sentences.
Allen was found guilty by a jury after an eight-week trial at Preston Crown Court and told he must serve a minimum of nine years and three months before being eligible for parole.
Now the team of detectives who investigated the deaths of the four siblings have been honoured with a top award recognising the work which solved the case.
The painstaking dedication of the group of officers from eventually secured the conviction of Allen.
They have now been recognised with the team of the year award at the ACPO Homicide Working Group’s national SIO annual conference.
Senior Investigating Officer, Chief Supt Dermott Horrigan, his deputy Detective Chief Insp, now temporary Superintendent Andrea Barrow, and colleagues who worked on the case – codenamed Operation Chevelle – were presented with the award at a special ceremony in Leeds.
Temporary Supt Barrow, said: “To be recognised for our work at a national level is a huge honour.
“This murder inquiry was one of the most noteworthy investigations undertaken by Lancashire Police and it delivered success despite the fact there was no direct forensic evidence or witness testimony to place Allen in the children’s bedroom at the time of ignition.
“This was a big team effort together with partners such as Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service who played a large part in the investigation.”
Following the fire, the house was immediately treated as a crime scene by detectives and subsequent examination by experts determined that the source of the fire was a wooden wardrobe situated within the children’s bedroom.
It was also established there was an absence of factors to support any suggestion of accidental ignition.
As such, the investigation became one of a murder inquiry.
Due to the scale of the investigation, thousands of exhibits were seized that required cataloguing and examination.
Chief Supt Dermott Horrigan was praised for pursuing many other lines of enquiry in an attempt to gather all available evidence.
His tenacity was described as ‘inspiring’.