Woman Set Fire To Neighbour's House, Killing Her Children Due To Jealousy

Woman Set Fire To Neighbour's House, Killing Her Children Due To Jealousy

A woman allegedly started a 'devastating' fire in her neighbour's home which killed two adults and three young children after two months of threats, a court heard today.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her four-year-old nephew Bailey and two-year-old niece Skye died in the blaze at their home in North Wales on October 19 last year.

Firefighters managed to rescue Ms Shiers’ 15-month-old son Charlie and his father, Liam Timbrell, 23, from their first-floor flat, but they both died later in hospital.

Melanie Smith, 42, who lived in the flat below the victims in Maes y Groes, Prestatyn, is on trial at Mold Crown Court accused of their murders.

The defendant had previously told her neighbour Lee-Anna she would 'set your house on fire with your kids in it', the jury was told.

Ian Murphy QC, prosecuting, said: 'The prosecution say that the fire was deliberately started by the defendant who had been drinking heavily that day, and who over a period of about two months leading up to the October 19, had demonstrated anger and hostility towards Lee-Anna and also jealousy of her.

 

Woman Set Fire To Neighbour's House, Killing Her Children Due To Jealousy

'It is the prosecution’s case that on a number of occasions which I will later describe the defendant made threats to or about Lee-Anna that she would "set your house on fire with your kids in it".'

The jury of seven women and five men were told that Ms Shiers habitually kept Charlie’s pushchair in the downstairs hallway, pushed against the door which gave access to a staircase leading to the upstairs flat.

Mr Murphy said: 'This pushchair and items left on top of it were deliberately ignited with a naked flame shortly before 10pm on Friday October 19 and a devastating fire developed, rushing up the stairs to the flat above and killing all of those inside.

'To add greatly to the tragic consequences of this fire, not only were Lee-Anna, Liam and Charlie Timbrell upstairs but so too were two of Lee-Anna’s young relatives.'

The court heard that Bailey and Skye were staying with the family for the night.

Mr Murphy said Smith was 'particularly angry' with Ms Shiers’ habit of leaving the pushchair in the hall and with her being 'noisy' in the upstairs flat and being untidy, leaving cigarette ends around the front door area.

'The defendant also seems to have been jealous of Lee-Anna for, the prosecution say, she accused her partner of having a sexual relationship with her - an allegation for which there seems to be no basis at all,' Mr Murphy said.

The jury was told that, by October 19, Smith was also 'angry and disillusioned' with her partner, Steven Clarkson, and very unhappy in her flat, which she wanted to leave and had already requested a notice to quit from her landlord.

Sobbing could be heard from the public gallery when Mr Timbrell's 999 call was played to the jury.

Mr Murphy said Liam Timbrell was the only person from inside the flat who was able to give any account at all about what happened.

He said: 'The prosecution say that the circumstances in which he spoke lie at the heart of what happened and were made when he was so emotionally overpowered by these tragic events that the possibility of him lying or distorting can be disregarded.'

Mr Murphy said Mr Timbrell was being attended to by paramedics Sarah Martella and John Owens.

He was very badly burned but he became alert and awake and said: 'Babies, are the babies okay?'

He then said: 'I heard a woman shouting in the street.'

Asked by the paramedics what he meant, he replied: 'I'm going to set fire to the house' and 'Yes, yes I heard this woman shouting she was going to set fire to the house.'

Mr Murphy told the jury: 'Liam was saying: 'Mal, Mal' and when Sarah said, 'who?' he replied: 'Mel' followed by: 'It was Mel.'

 

John Owens later told police: 'I remember him saying, 'It was arson. She did it. Mel did it."'

The court was told Mr Timbrell said 'Mel did it' two or three times then asked for reassurances about the children.

The court heard that the paramedics asked Community Support Officer Barry Williams to speak to Mr Timbrell.

Mr Timbrell said: 'She was shouting through the letterbox: 'I'm going to burn your house down.''

He confirmed again to the officer that it was 'Mel from the downstairs flat'.

 

The court heard that Smith had made threats to burn property and Mr Murphy said that may show she had a 'propensity' to do so.

In one case in October 2012 Smith told her friend she was going to 'torch or bomb' her landlord's flat and that he was not going to get any money from her rent.

 

When questioned by police about the fire Smith said she was not sure what had happened.

She said: 'One minute I was sitting in the lounge and the next I saw smoke coming from underneath the flat door, so I went to the bedroom window. I hurt my arm when climbing.'

Asked if she knew what started it, she replied: 'Probably in the hall but I don't know how as there was only an old pushchair there.'

Smith denies the five murder charges and also one count of making a threat to destroy or damage property.

The case was adjourned until tomorrow.

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