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


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The Independent Online

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.