I never wished them harm, says woman accused of fire that killed five

 

A woman accused of starting a fire that killed five members of the same family living above her today told jurors she had never wished any harm on the family.

Appearing before Mold Crown Court, Melanie Smith, 43, said anyone who started fires was "screwed in the head".

Smith, who lived below the family in Prestatyn, north Wales, is accused of deliberately starting the fire by torching a pushchair because she was angry it had been left in a shared hallway by the family upstairs.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her nephew Bailey, four, and niece Skye, two, died in the alleged arson on October 19.

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

Giving evidence Smith repeatedly denied ever making threats to start fires. She said she did not ever suspect her boyfriend of having "an affair" with Ms Shiers and denied ever having a problem with the pushchair being left in the communal hallway. Stephen Riordan QC, defending Smith, asked her about Charlie.

The self-confessed alcoholic replied: "He was a gorgeous little boy."

Mr Riordan asked her whether she had "wished any harm" on the baby, to which Smith replied "never".

Smith, who had been barred from numerous pubs in Prestatyn for her drunken behaviour, repeatedly denied making drunken threats to burn peoples' houses down. She said: "I wouldn't have it in me. I wouldn't do it anyway."

She said that on the night of the blaze she "was hysterical".

When she was outside she told jurors she had heard cries of "we can't get them out".

The court has heard this month that Mr Timbrell said to paramedics that "it was arson" and "it was Mel".

Smith denies five counts of murder. The trial continues tomorrow.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable