Two convicted child killers have gone on trial for the murder of a woman who died in 2019 after being seriously injured in an arson attack that killed four of her children.
Zak Bolland, 26, and David Worrall, 28, launched the fatal attack, the culmination of series of tit-for-tat attacks while feuding with the 16-year-old son of Michelle Pearson, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The pair petrol-bombed her home on Jackson Street, Walkden, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of the morning, trapping the family upstairs.
Demi Pearson, 15, her brother Brandon, aged eight, and sister Lacie, aged seven, all perished in the blaze.
Michelle Pearson was rescued along with her youngest daughter, Lia, aged three, who died in hospital two days later.
Her eldest son, Kyle Pearson, 16, managed to escape the blaze through a window.
Mrs Pearson suffered 68% burns to her body and “clung on to life” the court heard, until she died, aged 37, on August 25 2019, 20 months after the attack.
Both Bolland and Worrall were convicted of the children’s murders after a trial in May 2018, the jury was told.
But both deny the murder of Mrs Pearson.
Paul Reid QC, opening the case for the prosecution, told the jury of seven men and five women: “Just as they denied their guilt in 2018, these defendants now deny their guilt of the murder of Michelle Pearson.
“The prosecution say that if Michelle Pearson had died before that trial took place, the jury would undoubtedly have convicted Bolland and Worrall of the murder of Michelle Pearson.
“We invite you to come to the same conclusion.
“Michelle Pearson died as a result of the injuries she sustained when Zak Bolland and David Worrall threw petrol bombs into the house where she was asleep with five of her children, who were aged between three and 16 years old.”
The jury heard the fire was the culmination of a number of attacks on the Pearson family home before the fatal blaze on December 11 2017.
At 5am, Bolland and Worrall removed a fence panel at the back of the house, smashed a kitchen window and threw two petrol bombs inside, the prosecutor said.
In the weeks before, Bolland’s car was damaged, and he blamed Kyle Pearson, demanding £500 and sending threatening text messages to Mrs Pearson’s phone number.
Around four hours before the alleged arson attack, Bolland was at her doorstep threatening Mrs Pearson that he was “going to do your house”, the jury heard.
Police were called and Mrs Pearson made a statement.
But hours later, Bolland and Worrall returned to carry out the fatal attack, the jury heard. Both were arrested the next day.
Mr Reid said Bolland denies murder and says he is only guilty of manslaughter and was wrongly convicted of the murders in 2018.
He claims it was his co-defendant’s idea to petrol bomb the house, and he thought no-one was home at the time.
Mr Reid said Worrall denies murder and claims he was also wrongly convicted in 2018.
His case is that he believed the house to be occupied but thought all that was going to happen was the family’s wheelie bins were going to be set on fire.
Bolland’s girlfriend at the time, Courtney Brierley, 23, who “encouraged or assisted them”, was convicted of four counts of manslaughter at the first trial.
She has admitted the manslaughter of Mrs Pearson and is awaiting sentence.
The trial continues.