Daughters in plea over care home blaze murder

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The Independent Online

The daughters of a 96-year-old woman who died in a fire at a care home today appealed for information over her "horrific" murder.

Edith Stuart died in hospital following the blaze at Cleveleys Park Rest Home in Cleveleys, Lancashire, on October 18 last year.

A 27-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl were questioned on suspicion of murder at the time but were released without charge days later.

Police had said that an examination of the scene in Stockdove Way had revealed the fire which spread to Mrs Stuart's bed was deliberately ignited.

A murder inquiry into the pensioner's death remains ongoing as Mrs Stuart's daughters, Shirley Fish, from Poulton, and Jean Worgan, from Northampton, pleaded for the killer to come forward.

Mrs Fish said: "My mum would have been 97 in two weeks' time, she was really happy, really content. She was looking forward to being 100-years-old, she wanted a telegram from the Queen.

"She was generous and very independent. She would still walk around on her own. She very much wanted to live but unfortunately someone decided that wasn't to be and took her life away.

She said it was "quite unreal" when a policeman turned up to her door to tell her about the fire.

"It was horrific. He told me mum was in hospital. I went to see her. It was probably one of the worst things I could see - her hair was black from the smoke, her face was grey and the rest of her body was covered in a sheet," she said.

"They set fire to mum's bed and walked away, leaving her there. It must have been so frightening. She must have been terrified. These are the thoughts that go through our minds.

"We are a normal, ordinary family, this sort of thing doesn't happen to you. But it has and it mustn't happen to anyone else. Someone needs to be caught.

"They have destroyed more than my mother. We can't explain how we feel about it. It's far too difficult to put into words.

"I would beg that person to give themselves up. It would help all of us. It will never go away, that trauma will always be there because it's happened. But it will help us to move forward and get on with our lives."

Mrs Worgan said the family had taken a lot of thought over choosing a care home for her mother when she moved out of her home in Burnley aged 92.

She said Cleveleys Park was a "very homely place" where all her needs were taken care of.

She said: "It's been very hard. The fire, the burns, the smoke inhalation didn't kill her straight away, she lived for 30 hours.

"But we couldn't stroke her, hold her hand or hug her. All we could do was touch her cheek and let her know we were there for her. It was so surreal. It was like being on a television set for a murder play. We couldn't understand why anyone could have done that and leave her there.

"Whoever deliberately went in and murdered my mother needs help. It isn't so much punishment, it's help they need. This person might get depressed or bored, they might think they can do it again and someone else's family might have to suffer like we are.

"The person who did this has a family and if that family love that person they will notice if there is anything different about what they are doing or saying. If they love that person they would come forward to the police because that person needs help. Anyone who can do this to an old lady needs help."