Funeral of Redcar fire death victim Jessica Braithwaite

Jessica Braithwaite
Image caption Jessica was with her father when the fire broke out

The funeral has taken place of a seven-year-old girl who died in a house fire on Teesside.

Police began a murder inquiry after Jessica Braithwaite and her father Philip died at their home in Hawthorn Road, Redcar, earlier this month.

Her sister Catriona, nine, remains seriously ill in hospital after the fire which was started deliberately.

The service was held Saltburn Methodist Church, where Jessica attended the local Brownie group.

The Reverend Chris Eddy said: "We should not be here. This should not have happened."

He described "little Jess" as a fun-loving, carefree girl who loved Whitby, playing with her guinea pigs, and singing and dancing.

As the small, white coffin, decorated with pink and cream roses and pictures of Jessica and Catriona, was taken from the church, Breaking Free from High School Musical was played.

Earlier, Jessica's other elder sister Emma Jackson, described the youngster as a "happy girl, who brought joy to everyone".

She said: "Jess will be so sadly missed by us all and we cannot imagine what life is going to be like without her.

"My other sister Catriona is still in hospital and my mother Christine has been so badly affected by what has occurred that she has not been able to leave her side."

Officers said Mr Braithwaite went out in his white Mazda hours before the fire. They are trying to trace his steps.

No-one else is being sought in connection with the blaze and Mrs Braithwaite was not at home at the time, police said.

Police said the fire was started in the lounge of the house and that it spread quickly.

Mr Braithwaite and Jessica were on the first floor.

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