Manchester

Man who threatened witnesses with firebomb goes missing

Simon Buckley
Image caption Simon Buckley pleaded guilty to witness intimidation

A man who threatened to firebomb the home of witnesses if they gave evidence about a fatal arson attack has gone on the run.

Simon Buckley, 24, of Bolton in Greater Manchester, pleaded guilty to witness intimidation at an earlier hearing.

He failed to attend the sentencing hearing at Bolton Crown Court.

The fire, at Little Holme Walk in Great Lever, Bolton, killed Hameeda Begum, 71, and her four-year-old granddaughter Alana Mian in June 2008.

A wheelie bin was set alight in the early hours and pushed up against the front door of the house. The flames quickly spread throughout the property, police said.

Mrs Begum died in the fire. Alana, who was visiting from Sydney, died in hospital six weeks later.

Alana's mother, Saima, suffered serious burns but has recovered.

A firefighter, Steve Morris, suffered 50% burns trying to rescue the family. He is still recovering from his injuries.

Buckley, his girlfriend Tracey Peers-Holland and a 16-year-old boy went to the house of a murder investigation witness on 14 October 2008.

Buckley, from Tonge Moor, told the man who lived there: "I'm Simon and when I find out who has been giving statements I will firebomb their houses," police said.

Buckley was charged with witness intimidation, which he admitted at an earlier hearing at Bolton Crown Court.

Image caption Alana Mian (left) and Hameeda Begum died as a result of the fire

Peers-Holland, 26, of Hawthorn Road, Bolton, also admitted witness intimidation at the same hearing.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work, at Bolton Crown Court.

A 16-year-old boy, from Bolton, who cannot be identified because of his age, was given a nine-month referral order, after admitting affray.

A girl, 17, was also charged with witness intimidation but the case against her was dropped, police said.

Mr McMahon said: "This terrible blaze has left an indelible mark on the family, the local community and the emergency services who dealt with it.

"Intimidating witnesses is unacceptable and a very serious offence. It takes a lot of courage for some people to speak to police and they should be able to do the right thing without feeling vulnerable or scared."

He appealed to anyone with any information about the murder, and the whereabouts of Buckley, to contact police.

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