A 19-year-old man has been found guilty of starting the fire in a bedroom which killed four members of the same family in Freckleton, Lancashire.
Dyson Allen was convicted of four counts of manslaughter, and is set to be given a lengthy jail sentence, after a jury heard he held a naked flame up to clothes in a wardrobe next to where four-year-old twins Holly and Ella Smith and brother Jordan, two, were sleeping.
Elder brother Reece, 19, went upstairs to try and rescue his younger brother and sisters, but was overcome by the fumes.
All four died from smoke inhalation as a result of the rapidly-spreading blaze on 7 January last year.
Dyson Allen, weeping as the verdicts were given, was cleared of their murders.
Members of the victims’ family shouted “yes” in court, before a statement was given to the assembled press on behalf of Michelle Smith, the children’s mother, Martin Goulding, Reece’s father, and other relatives.
“We are pleased that Dyson Allen has been convicted of the manslaughter of our beautiful children Reece, Holly, Ella and Jordan,” it read.
“We will never know the reason why our children were taken from us but even knowing the answer would not bring them back.
”He had the chance to explain his actions to the police and the court. He lied from the very beginning, and continued to the very end.
“We would like to thank the fire service and all other emergency services who tried to save the children that night.
“We would especially like to thank the police for their determination in bringing him before the courts and for today’s outcome.
“Finally, we would like to pay tribute to Reece who paid the ultimate price for trying to rescue his brother and sisters and for that are eternally grateful and very, very proud.”
Sentencing was adjourned until 27 September for the preparation of psychiatric reports.
But judge Mr Justice Males told the court: ”There must be no doubt that it is inevitable there will be a substantial prison sentence.“
Lancashire Police’s Det Chief Supt Dermott Horrigan said it had been one of the most tragic and significant murder inquiries the county had seen in years.
Speaking of the reasons behind the convicted 19-year-old’s actions, he said: “Dyson Allen, an individual who has caused immense tragedy, has been given numerous opportunities to explain.
“We may get an explanation in due course from him as to why he started that fire. Unless he does that, he’s the only person that knows why he deliberately put an ignition source into that wardrobe with three small children in the bedroom.”Reuse content