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.
With more than 2,000 police officers cut since 2010 and further cuts ahead police bosses believe having them standing by sealed off crime scenes for hours on end is a waste of resources. They are also looking to cut the amount of time constables spend guarding prisoners and suspects in hospital. Constables guard streets and locations where violent crime and murders have taken place to prevent contamination or removal of evidence, or prevent forensics teams being interrupted by passers-by.
Bosses say this is a job which could be done easily by cheaper security guards.
Warranted officer guarding scenes for hours on end is not always a sensible use of resource, when more appropriate, cost effective roles can carry out the task.
I want there to be as many warranted officers out pro-actively tackling crime in the West Midlands as possible.
Freeing up some warranted officers from scene guarding duties is one way of doing that.
The Police and Crime Commissioners Strategic Board was told by Chief Constable Dave Thompson that a pilot of private security guards would begin in February 2018. Mr Thompson said: Our officer numbers are set to drop by about 200 over the next few years . We are looking to make the best use of the officers we have.
He said that digital and mobile technology could improve the productivity of officers. And that already an upgrade to the medical care available at the force s custody blocks had reduced the need to send suspects under guard to hospital, again saving valuable police officer time. The Board was supportive of measures to free up officers for crime fighting duties.
Each of Spain’s DNIe ID cards has a chip containing two certificates, one for identification and one for electronic signing.
Each of Spain’s DNIe ID cards has a chip containing two certificates, one for identification and one for electronic signing.Image: Cuerpo Nacional de Polic a
When security researchers discovered last month that secure hardware made by Germany’s Infineon Technologies was not so secure after all1, it was clear that there would be major implications. There are a lot of smartcards and other devices out there with Infineon’s chips in them, and the ‘ROCA’ flaw2 in Infineon’s key pair-generation algorithm made it possible for someone to discover a target’s private key just by knowing what their public key was. Now, in an analogous situation to that recently experienced in Estonia3, Spain seems to be having a tough — and arguably more chaotic — time dealing with the implications for its national identity smartcards. Estonia’s big security flaw only affected around 760,000 cards, although Estonians genuinely use their cards for a great variety of public and private services. Against that figure, there are around 60 million identity smartcards in Spain . However, according to an El Pa s article4, Spaniards were only using theirs in 0.02 percent of public-service engagements when surveyed a few years back. Dan Cvrcek is the CEO at security firm Enigma Bridge, which was co-founded by researchers who identified the ROCA flaw.
He told ZDNet that exploitation of the flaw could allow attackers to revert or invalidate contracts that people have signed, in part because the Spanish don’t use timestamps for very important signatures. “I still don’t think you can do a large-scale attack that would target a lot of people,” Cvrcek said. However, he added, the cost of an individual attack has “rapidly decreased” . The assumption used to be that an attack cost between $20,000 and $40,000, but now it’s “realistically $2,000”. Each card, known as the DNIe, has a chip that contains two certificates, one for identification and one for electronically signing things. According to El Diario5, the authorities responded to Infineon’s October vulnerability disclosure by revoking, on November 6, all certificates issued since April 2015. What’s more, the authorities have stopped letting people sign things with the card at the self-service terminals found at many police stations.
That decision affects every card, not only those that have the flaw . However, people can still digitally sign documents online, using a small card reader that connects to their PCs. The readers are needed to update the affected cards . But there is as yet no indication of when the affected cards will be updated . Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be much official information out there at all, something which has not gone unnoticed in the Spanish tech press. “Neither the police nor other public bodies have given more information through their social media accounts about the impact of the vulnerability and how to act if affected,” said Xataka6. At least the Basque certificate authority Izenpe, which has revoked 30,000 certificates, has given information7 about how to replace them, the blog added. Amid all that chaos, it also seems that some people with recently issued DNIe cards are still able to use them, despite the supposed revocation of their certificates. “I would not mind if it continued like this until there are new certificates,” tweeted8 one user. Toomas Ilves, the former president of Estonia, said earlier this week that he believed millions of people in countries had been affected by the ROCA flaw, but their authorities were remaining “silent”.
Previous and related coverage
Estonia is built on secure state e-systems, so the world was watching when it hit a huge ID-card problem
A new security flaw has placed the security of RSA encryption in jeopardy.
- ^ not so secure after all (www.zdnet.com)
- ^ the ‘ROCA’ flaw (www.infineon.com)
- ^ experienced in Estonia (www.zdnet.com)
- ^ El Pa s article (cincodias.elpais.com)
- ^ El Diario (www.eldiario.es)
- ^ Xataka (www.xataka.com)
- ^ given information (www.izenpe.eus)
- ^ tweeted (twitter.com)
- ^ Estonia’s ID card crisis: How e-state’s poster child got into and out of trouble (www.zdnet.com)
- ^ As devastating as KRACK: New vulnerability undermines RSA encryption keys (www.zdnet.com)