Salford house fire family had been living under threat and security was increased before devastating attack
The family of Michelle Pearson had been living under threat before the devastating attack. Demi Pearson, 14, Brandon, eight, and sister Lacie, seven, died after a blaze broke out on Jackson Street in Walkden at 5am on Monday morning. Five people have since been arrested in connection with the fire, and police have launched a murder investigation.
The M.E.N . has learned that security had been stepped up at the mid-terrace property. Sources confirmed to the M.E.N . that the house had been target hardened to protect the family living there from attack. Measures included the fitting of an increased security device on the letterbox.
Police confirmed that the force had very recent physical contact with the family – understood to be within 24 hours of the devastating attack.
The Manchester Evening News understands that police had been called there to a reported incident at the house at around 2am, around three hours before the blaze took hold. As well as the possibility that a flammable liquid was poured through the home s letterbox, there have also been reports that the perpetrator used scaffolding to launch the attack, although there has been been no confirmation of this by Greater Manchester Police. Chief Supt Wayne Miller confirmed at a press conference held at Swinton police station that there had been earlier incidents at the address, but refused to elaborate further or confirm the nature of the call.
As a result of the prior police contact GMP has voluntarily referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in line with procedure.
The police chief said: There have been earlier incidents at the address and consequently a referral to the IPCC has been made. Asked whether the tragedy is being linked to organised crime, Chief Supt Miller said the force was keeping an open mind and did not comment further. He added: This is a fast moving live investigation and we have a major investigation team with scores of dedicated detectives working tirelessly.
The devastated older brother of the three young children who were killed has spoken of the moment he tried desperately to save them. Speaking about the horrific incident, Kyle Pearson told the M.E.N: I fell asleep and the next thing I knew was I could hear my mum screaming, Fire! . There was lots of smoke so I climbed out of an upstairs window.
I ve gone to get back in but a cloud of smoke hit me in the face.”
I can t get my head around it . It s disgraceful.
I tried to break the front door down and smashed a window, but I couldn t get in because of the flames and the smoke.”
Timeline of events
Monday, December 11
Police were originally called to the house following an incident, around three hours before the fire service were alerted to the blaze.
Firefighters raced to the family s mid-terrace home on Jackson Street in Walkden, Salford, after reports of a large fire.
Early reports from the fire service said that six people were taken to hospital . The street was closed off and transport bosses warned people to avoid the area.
Investigations into the blaze continued . Firefighters remained at the scene to monitor the house for any remaining hotspots.
Neighbours told the M.E.N . of their shock at what had happened . One local resident said she heard screaming and banging during the night, initially thinking it was an argument . She described the street as being quite loud .
Police confirmed three children died in the fire and a three-year-old girl remained in hospital in a critical condition. They also said the fire was being treated as suspicious . Officers revealed a girl, 14, a boy, eight, and a girl, seven, all passed away after the blaze broke out . The 35-year-old mother of all the children was in a serious condition in hospital, they said.
(Image: MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)
During a press conference at Swinton police station, detectives confirmed they had launched a murder investigation and urged a suspect to give himself up . At the briefing, Chief Superintendent Wayne Miller told reporters that seven people were in the house at the time of the fire.
He added there was an active manhunt for a suspect.
The first victim of the fire was named as 14-year-old Demi Pearson, a pupil at Educating Greater Manchester school Harrop Fold.
GMP said they had arrested a man, 23, and a woman, 20, in connection with the fire . Both were held on suspicion of murder and taken into custody for questioning.
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
Two more victims of the fire were named – Demi s younger brother Brandon, eight, and his sister Lacie, seven . Their older brother Kyle Pearson, who escaped the burning property, paid tribute to his siblings.
Police confirmed three further arrests . Two young men, aged 18 and 20, were held on suspicion of murder . A 24-year-old man was also detained on suspicion of assisting and offender, a GMP spokesman said .
Five people have now been arrested in connection with the fatal fire.
Anyone with any information should contact police on 0161 856 8797, alternatively call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Enhanced security measures that caused thousands of rugby fans to miss the kick off for the Australia match are here to stay, said a defiant Welsh Rugby Union on Saturday evening. Rugby fans missed kick off for the opening autumn international because of huge queues to get into the Principality Stadium on Saturday. Supporters were left standing in the rain outside several gates as a result of enhanced security checks because of the unprecedented terror threat in the UK.
Fans queuing at the stadium as the game kicks off Fans queue at the stadium
Stadium chiefs had warned fans to get to the stadium early1 , with every supporter due to be searched for the first time ever . A warning was also issued stating large bags and umbrellas would not be allowed into the ground.
TV pictures inside the Principality showed scores of empty seats as the players emerged from the tunnel, with BBC TV presenter John Inverdale raising the issue on air . A crowd of more than 66,000 was due at the match. The WRU said after the match: “Enhanced security measures ensure everybody entering Principality Stadium is checked on arrival at the turnstiles . For the Under Armour Series, we have doubled the pre-game opening hours to three hours to give fans the opportunity to avoid the queues and we have made every effort to communicate to supporters to plan to arrive early and leave large bags and large umbrellas at home to avoid missing kick off.
“We received great support from all of our partners, including the media, South Wales Police and Cardiff Council, getting this message out in the build up to today s event.
“The safety and enjoyment of our visitors is of paramount importance.
“Welsh rugby fans are renowned for their contribution to the fantastic atmosphere inside the venue and vital support they give to the team on the pitch.
“Today thousands of fans enjoyed our new and improved pre-match entertainment schedule from three hours before kick-off, including live music and early bird offers at our retail units.
“It is important to stress that these security measures are here to stay and we don t want anyone to miss kick off.
“We will continue to urge supporters to allow more time for getting in to the stadium in future, as these checks are vital to the safety of all attendees.”
Thousands of fans remain in queues with just two minutes before the start of the game. (Image: Peter Bolter)
Tom Lee-wah from Cardiff said the price of the ticket didn’t warrant having to queue and miss part of the match. Another fan said she had been waiting for nearly half an hour in the rain.
“We’ve missed the great atmosphere now . Normally we like to go in and get a drink and take it all in before the match starts but we have missed all that.
“We were told we should come earlier because of the security check but we did come thirty minutes before kick off.”
Several fans took to social media to vent their frustration about the situation, with some describing scenes of chaos at the crowded gates. One, Tom Lewis, reported being stuck in a queue for an hour with no sign of movement, while fans at Gate 7 told WalesOnline they had no chance of making kick-off despite turning up 40 minutes before the scheduled start time.
Supporter Hattie Jones tweeted the Principality Stadium, saying: “We’ve been queuing for 65 minutes but are still told the queue is more than 60 minutes . Five minutes away from kick-off . Are there any refunds available.”
Cardiff MP Stephen Doughty called the crowd handling at Gate 1 an “utter shambles”. He said in a tweet he’d “never known it so bad in 18 years” and had reported his concerns to South Wales Police and the WRU.
There were also reports of female fans getting to the front of queues only to be sent to other queues by male stewards who were unable to search women. The WRU issued a detailed warning to fans earlier this week but it appears many were unaware just how thorough the checks would be in comparison to previous games. Small bags and handbags were permitted, provided they were no larger than 35cm x 40cm x 19cm.
- ^ Stadium chiefs had warned fans to get to the stadium early (www.walesonline.co.uk)
Former Commonwealth boxing champ Nicky Booth punched Waitrose security guard who caught him stealing coffee
A boxing champion who once fought for a world title has appeared in court after he lashed out at a security guard who caught him stealing tins of coffee worth just 16. Nicky Booth was ordered to pay 100 compensation to the guard who had caught him stealing from Waitrose in Milton Street, Nottingham city centre. Booth, 37, once held the Commonwealth and British boxing1 titles as a bantamweight.
He even challenged for the IBO world title in 2001, but was stopped in seven rounds by Jose Sanjuanelo at Wembley Conference Centre.
On May 4 this year Booth, who lives in Hucknall, visited Nottingham after staying with relatives and going ‘cold turkey’ in a bid to beat drugs. He went to the Waitrose store and stole three tins of coffee worth 15.66, said Lee Shepherd, prosecuting at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court3 on Wednesday November 8.
Nicky Booth boxing at Harvey Hadden in 2003
Booth then returned to the store later that day and tried to get away with four tins of coffee worth 16.72, but was spotted. Mr Shepherd said: “The security guard tried to detain him and he was punched to the jaw . After being arrested, Mr Booth was apologetic for his actions.”
Defence solicitor Chris Saunders told the court: “He comes across as a frail character nowadays . You can see he has trouble getting his words out correctly.
“You have seen he is almost shuffling when he comes into court .
He has been out of trouble for ten years and the problem is Class A drugs . When I spoke to him, he said ‘I need some help.’
“At the moment, he has various illnesses . His immune system is currently attacking his antibodies.”
When the assault took place, Booth was with a former partner who was pregnant.
Mr Saunders added: “It was in effect a warning strike.”
Nicky Booth boxing at Harvey Hadden Stadium in 2002
He must pay 85 prosecution costs, an identical amount as a government tax, and 15.66 to Waitrose, on top of the compensation. He must also complete a six-month drug rehabilitation course.
Deputy District Judge Richard Marshall told him: “You have been out of trouble for some time but you have obviously got yourself into trouble with drugs.”
In 2003 Booth lost a WBU title fight at Harvey Hadden Stadium against Nathan Sting, and never boxed professionally again. He retired with a record of 17 wins from 23 fights, but was later jailed for drug offences.