Fatal blaze was ‘deliberate act’

Floral tributes outside the Freckleton house where four siblings died.
Floral tributes outside the Freckleton house where four siblings died.

A blaze that wiped out four siblings was deliberately started with a naked flame, a jury heard.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief investigator said the fire that claimed the lives of 19-year-old Reece Smith, his twin sisters Ella and Holly, four, and their baby brother Jordan, two, was undoubtedly the result of a deliberate act.

Giving evidence at Preston Crown Court, chief fire investigator Rick Percival said it had been his job to test all the possible accidental and non accidental causes of the fire during his investigation.

He told the jury he had ruled out the that the fire had been started accidentally by DIY or hot working processes, discarded smoking materials, candles and accidental open flames such as someone using a match or lighter for light within the room, early in the investigation. Mr Percival said: “There was no trace of an ignition source in bedroom one at all.

“Whatever was used to set the clothing inside of the wardrobe on fire was taken out of the room again.

“In my opinion the most likely source of ignition is a naked flame deliberately held against the clothing hanging in the wardrobe for at least three seconds.”

The fire started in a wooden wardrobe in a bedroom inches away from where some of the children were sleeping in the bungalow in Lytham Road, Freckleton on January 7, last year

Mr Percival also talked the court through the reasons why he thought the children could not have been responsible for the blaze.

He said evidence shows that boys are more likely to start fires than girls and in this instance two-year-old Jordan was neither tall enough or able to use a cigarette lighter, matches or lift a candle high enough to ignite the clothes.

The court also heard the fire service thought it was unlikely the children would have set the fire, before discarding the ignition source and climbing into bed.

Dyson Allen, 19, of no fixed abode is accused of starting the blaze and denies four counts of murder and four counts of manslaughter.

(Proceeding)

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