Arson attack killers handed extra jail time for murder of woman

Michelle Pearson funeral order of service (PA Archive)
15:59pm, Wed 21 Apr 2021
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Two convicted child killers have been given extra jail time after being found guilty of the murder of a woman who died 20 months after the same arson attack killed four of her children.

Zak Bolland, 26, and David Worrall, 28, were both jailed for 40 years and 37 years on Wednesday for the murder of Michelle Pearson, 37, following a trial at Manchester Crown Court.

The pair were already serving four life sentences with a minimum of 40 years for Bolland and 37 years for Worrall for the murders of her four children following a trial in 2018.

Losing Michelle and the children is still very raw and we are all still struggling to come to terms with losing them, especially the way they died in such a horrific way

They had denied the murder of Mrs Pearson, claiming they had been wrongly convicted of murdering her children.

However, Mrs Justice McGowan ruled Bolland and Worrall’s latest sentences will run from today, not 2018, and so they will each serve around three extra years in jail.

Passing sentence, she said: “I must mark the fifth death you caused.

“The least I can do to balance all the factors outlined is to impose the same minimum terms as imposed in May of 2018, but to order that those terms commence today.

“Accordingly, the time you have served between the first trial and today will not reduce the minimum term.”

Outside court, a statement from the family was read which said: “We are still trying to come to terms with how cruelly they were taken away from us, a whole family has been torn apart and destroyed in one night.

“Losing Michelle and the children is still very raw and we are all still struggling to come to terms with losing them, especially the way they died in such a horrific way.

Zak Bolland (PA Media)

“The family shouldn’t have had to relive the devastating details from the fire all over again.

“Not once have they shown any remorse or said sorry for the murders of my daughter and grandchildren.”

High on drink and drugs, the pair launched the fatal attack, the culmination of series of tit-for-tat attacks while feuding with the 16-year-old son of Mrs Pearson.

They petrol-bombed her home on Jackson Street, Walkden Greater Manchester, in the early hours of the morning, trapping the family upstairs as a ferocious blaze engulfed the house on December 11, 2017.

Demi Pearson, 15, her brother Brandon, aged eight, and sister Lacie, aged seven, all perished in the blaze.

Mrs Pearson was rescued along with her youngest daughter, Lia, aged three, who died in hospital two days later.

David Worrall (PA Media)

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.

Bolland’s girlfriend at the time of the attack, Courtney Brierley, 23, who “encouraged or assisted them”, was convicted of four counts of manslaughter at the first trial.

She is currently serving a sentence of 21 years and was given a 12-year sentence today to run concurrently after admitting the manslaughter of Mrs Pearson, and will also serve a “short period” of extra jail time.

Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Chatterton, from Greater Manchester Police’s major investigation team, said: “This was a heart-breaking case and I’m glad that the trio have now faced justice for the devastating death of Michelle too – 20 months on.

“All of our thoughts are with the family who have been through such a difficult time and have had to sit through two trials and listen to details on what was a horrific and planned attack.”

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