From the moment someone becomes a parent, their world revolves around their children entirely. So when a parent experiences the devastating loss of a child, their entire world is shattered into a million pieces.
In 2017, a family from Manchester, England became the victims of a disturbing and heinous crime. In the months that followed, the surviving mother was devastated to learn that almost all of her children perished in the attack. Now, a year later, she has spoken out for the first time since her world was turned upside down.
On December 11, 2017, a family of six were asleep in their home in Walkden, which is in Manchester. They had no idea that while they slept, two local young men and a young woman were plotting to attack the Pearson family as revenge.
According to officials, 17-year-old Kyle Pearson had gotten caught up in a feud with 23-year-old Zak Bolland. The two had been friends until Bolland’s car had been set on fire and the windows of his home were broken. Bolland accused Kyle of the attack and vowed to get revenge.
In the weeks before December 11, Bolland sent numerous threatening messages to both Kyle and his mother, Michelle Pearson. On a number of occasions, Bolland even followed through with his threats. Bolland smashed several windows at the Pearson’s home and set a fire in a garbage can outside the house.
On the night of December 10, 2017, Bolland and his friend, 26-year-old David Worrall, attacked their front door with a metal pole. Michelle called the police and gave a statement. Then several hours later, in the early hours of December 11, the pair came back to the home.
The pair went out to a gas station to buy gasoline, got bottles from Bolland’s home, and went to the Pearson home with 21-year-old Courtney Brierley, Bolland’s then-girlfriend. At that point, Bolland and Worrall ripped off a fence panel from the front yard of Michelle’s house.
The Fire Bombs
The young men used the fence panel to break the kitchen windows of the home. Bolland and Worrall then tossed in the lit bottles full of gasoline. One of the bombs exploded near the staircase in the house, which blocked the only exit to the first floor of the home.
Bolland, Worrall, and Brierley fled the scene. Within minutes, everyone in the home woke up to smoke filling up inside the rooms. The children frantically tried to escape, however, they discovered they were completely trapped on the second level of the home.
Calling For Help
Meanwhile, neighbors were woken up by the explosions and rushed over to help. Because of the size of the fire, however, all they could do was call for help. Firefighters rushed to the scene of the fire, and desperately tried to save the family of young children.
By the time rescuers arrived, Kyle and friend Bobby Harris, who had been staying the night at the house, managed to escape by jumping out of a second-story window. Michelle, who had been asleep in the same room as her 3-year-old daughter, Lia, also managed to pull her young daughter from the house.
Kyle and Michelle screamed trying to get the other kids to jump. According to neighbors, they heard Michelle frantically screaming for her children. “I could hear Michelle shouting, ‘Not the children. Not the kids,’” neighbor Karen Kormoss said during the later trial.
A Mother’s Anguish
“I could hear her voice, ‘Not my kids. It happened in two minutes. The windows blown out and the flames coming out of both the upstairs and downstairs. It was gone. Just smoke,” Kormoss said. Tragically, 15-year-old Demi, 8-year-old Brandon, and 7-year-old Lacie were all killed in the fire.
Two Days Later
Two days later, Lia also tragically died from injuries sustained in the blaze. Michelle had been severely injured in the fire, so doctors decided to put her in an induced coma to try and keep her alive. Meanwhile, Bolland, Worrall, and Brierley were all arrested and charged.
During their trials, each was found guilty for the heinous crime. Bolland was convicted of murdering the four children and was found guilty of attempted murder of the survivors. He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 40 years. Worrall was found guilty of the four murders and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent against the survivors.
The Other Sentences
Worrall was also sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 37 years. Brierly was found guilty of manslaughter for her involvement in the crime. She was sentenced to 21 years in a young offenders’ institution. “This is one of the most heartbreaking cases I have ever dealt with,” Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Hughes said in a statement after the trial.
Justice Is Served
“I am glad that the sentences these three have received today reflect their atrocious acts, but nothing can change what has happened and nothing can bring back the children,” Hughes added. “I would like to commend the bravery of the children’s family. I can’t even begin to imagine what they have been through. My thoughts will always be with their mother Michelle, along with their father, brothers and wider family and friends.”
Breaking The News
Four months after the devastating attack, Michelle finally woke up from the coma and learned that all but one of her children perished in the fire. Unfortunately, the medications she was taking affected her memory. As a result, she had to be reminded that her children were dead almost every day…
The Grieving Process
“She still gets upset,” Michelle’s mom, Sandra, told the Manchester Evening News. “12 months she’s been in here, but she wasn’t awake for half of it, so she has only just begun the grieving process. It took a long time for her to get her head around what happened. We’d have to remind her every day because of all the medication.”
Michelle Speaks Out
“She has now accepted it and has started to grieve,” Sandra said. About a year after the attack, Michelle finally spoke out for the first time about what happened. “First of all, I’d like to thank all the firefighters for what they have done,” Michelle said in the emotional statement, which was reported by the Manchester Evening News.
The Candle-Lit Vigil
“Second, I would like to thank the community for all their generous donations. And last I would like to thank everybody for coming tonight,” Michelle told over 100 members of the community who gathered on the anniversary of the attack at a candle-lit vigil.
Grateful For The Support
“Lacie’s birthday was on Saturday. We spent the day with Michelle and then went back to the house and let off balloons with family and friends,” Sandra said. “Everyone has been so amazing. You don’t realize how many people have got together to help you – the fundraising, donations, and it’s all still coming in. We couldn’t have done it without them.”