NEWS
14/09/2018 17:05 BST

Hundreds Line Streets For Funerals Of Children Killed In Manchester Arson Attack

"One day we will be united forever."

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets to pay respects as four coffins carrying children killed in a petrol-bombing on their home were carried into their funerals.

Demi Pearson, 15, brother Brandon, eight and sisters Lacie, seven, and Lia, three, died in the arson attack which turned their home into an inferno last December.

People lined the route of the funeral procession leading to St Paul’s Church, but the children’s mother, Michelle Pearson, was unable to attend.

The 36-year-old was badly injured in the blaze at her home in Jackson Street in Walkden, Greater Manchester, and is still unwell and in hospital.

PA
The coffins of Demi, Brandon, Lacie and Lia Pearson are carried into St Paul's Church in Walkden, ahead of their funeral

The funeral procession was led by kilted bagpipers playing a mournful lament, accompanied by drummers and followed by family and friends, walking closely behind four horse-drawn carriages, each bearing a coffin.

Two white horses pulled each carriage, with the names of the child on top in flowers and a portrait photo beside each coffin.

Pallbearers broke into tears as they passed a guard of honour of firefighters, the men and women who went into the house engulfed in flames and tried in vain to rescue the children.

Demi’s coffin and carriage were multi-coloured, in memory of a teenager who was fond of music and planned to go to college.

Next arrived Brandon’s Avengers-themed coffin, adorned with pictures of superhero figures.

Then followed Lacie’s coffin, featuring a picture of a pink My Little Pony for the girl described by family as a “little diva”.

Last came Lia, the smallest coffin of all, with a picture of cartoon character Peppa Pig.

Pearson’s mother Sandra Lever was among the mourners filing into church for the start of the service, a quarter of a mile from their home.

Lever has said the children had all been “lovely, happy angels”.

PA
A horse drawn carriage carrying the coffin of Demi Pearson

Ariana Grande’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow played as the coffins were carried inside for the start of the service, mourners filling the church, with dozens of others listening to a loudspeaker relaying the service to those still outside.

Reverend Gill Page told them they were there to celebrate the lives of four “precious” children for the short time they spent on Earth.

The words of Michelle Pearson, still being treated for her injuries, were read by her sister Claire Pearson.

The mother described Lia as a “right little chatterbox”, and said just thinking of Lacie, who loved to dance, made her smile through her tears.

Brandon loved technology and computers and had promised to build his mother a new house when he grew up, and Demi would stay out later than she should, “but I could never get mad at her”.

Pearson’s words continued: “I’m so proud of them. It’s hard to put into words what’s happened and how it makes me feel.

“They were the twinkle in my eye, now they are angels in the sky. One day we will be united forever.”

PA
PA Wire/PA Images

The service, lasting around two hours, included cherished happy memories, music and images of the children playing on screens in the church, along with Bible readings and prayers.

After the final commendation and blessing, each of the four coffins were carried out to Angel by Sarah McLachlan before a private burial for family members.

The children’s killers, who had “terrorised” mother-of-six Michelle Pearson, are all serving lengthy jail terms.

The youngsters were murdered as they slept in their beds after Zak Bolland, 23, and David Worrall, 26, smashed a kitchen window and threw petrol bombs inside in the dead of night over a petty feud with Pearson’s teenage son Kyle.

Pearson woke up screaming: “Not the kids! Not my kids!” as flames engulfed the house at 5am last December 11.

She was rescued with Lia, who died in hospital two days later.

Bolland and Worrall were both given four life sentences for murder after a trial in May and must serve a minimum of 40 and 37 years respectively before parole.

Bolland’s girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, was jailed for 21 years for four counts of manslaughter.

Pearson had made a series of complaints to police and her housing provider Salford Council, asking to be moved.

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct is ongoing.