Freckleton fire deaths: Dyson Allen jailed for life
A man has been jailed for life for starting a fire while "drunk and stoned" which killed four siblings in Lancashire.
Four-year-old twins Holly and Ella Smith and brothers Jordan, two, and Reece, 19, died on 7 January 2012.
Dyson Allen, 19, of no fixed abode, was convicted of manslaughter at Preston Crown Court in July.
He was ordered to serve a minimum of nine years three months for starting the Lytham Road fire.
Allen started the fire in a wardrobe in the children's bedroom of the dormer bungalow while a birthday party was being held downstairs for the children's mother, Michelle Smith.
Forensic experts told the jury the fire could not have been an accident and that a naked flame had been held against clothes in the wardrobe for a few seconds.
All four siblings died from the effects of smoke inhalation, with Reece succumbing to the smoke after going back into the fire to try and save his brother and sisters.
Sentencing Allen, Mr Justice Males said the 19-year-old had no motive to harm the children or anyone in the Smith family.
He said Allen started the blaze because he was "out of [his] head on a lethal combination of alcohol and cannabis" and had a "fascination with fire", particularly when he was affected by drink or drugs.
He added that Allen had been "drunk and stoned" and that had he "not been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis, four young people would still be alive and several other lives would not have been blighted".
"While you did not intend to cause serious harm to the children, you knew what you were doing in starting the fire and you had ample experience of the danger of fire," he said.
"You only went downstairs to raise the alarm when the intense heat melted the aluminium light fitting causing the electricity to fail."
Det Ch Supt Dermott Horrigan said it was "one of the most tragic and significant cases that Lancashire has seen for a number of years, which has left the family and the whole community devastated".
"I hope this sentence offers some closure for the family at the end of what has been a very long and traumatic process for them.
"This was a needless loss of life and is a permanent reminder of the tragic consequences of fooling around with fire," he said.
"We will never know why Dyson did what he did that night, but his actions have stolen the lives of four of Michelle's children."
Mrs Smith said in a statement after sentencing that Allen had "shown no remorse or regret for his actions, still refusing to tell us, what exactly happened".
"Why or what he did, we still do not know."
She said the family had "to live with the loss of the children each and every day".
"Every birthday that I have will be the anniversary of my children's deaths."
She added that the family wished to thank the "wonderful support" from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and "the heroic attempts of the fire service, paramedics and medical staff" to save the siblings.