North East Wales

Prestatyn death trial told fire drove back rescuers

Clockwise from left: Liam Timbrell; Lee-Anna Shiers and son Charlie; niece Skye and nephew Bailey
Image caption Clockwise from left: Liam Timbrell; Lee-Anna Shiers and son Charlie; niece Skye and nephew Bailey

Neighbours who tried to rescue a family from a house fire were driven back by heat and smoke, a murder trial heard.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her partner Liam Timbrell, 23, their 15-month-old son Charlie, and two of his cousins died in the blaze in Prestatyn, Denbighshire.

An-ex police officer tried to get in via a rear window and another neighbour opened the front door but both were driven back, Mold Crown Court heard.

Melanie Smith, 42, who lived in the flat below Ms Shiers, denies murder.

As well as Ms Shiers, her nephew Bailey, four, and niece Skye, two, died in the blaze.

Former policeman Peter Bailey, a neighbour, said in a statement read to the court that he was watching TV with his wife on the evening of 19 October 2012.

He heard banging noises and his wife shouted that the house over the road was on fire.

"I went outside and saw that the front door of the house was well ablaze. There were loads of people in the street with black acrid smoke pouring out of the house," he said.

The front door was "a ring of fire" with black smoke billowing out, the court heard.

"The heat was intense with the fire raging, it was well under way," he said.

Mr Bailey said that he ran round to the back of the house and climbed onto a flat roof.

He climbed to the top of a ladder brought by a neighbour with the intention of getting into the flat but as he put his hand to the window he "felt the heat" coming from inside.

He said: "There was no way I could get in."

'Whoosh sound'

The jury heard from another neighbour Joe Shelley who was on his way to meet friends when he heard woman's voice shouting: "We cannot get out."

He said he opened the front door of the house and was surprised how much fire there was there.

Image caption A 999 call was played to the jury in which a neighbour told how people were unable to get break a window to escape

He said: "I thought of going to try and help but, in the time I thought that, flames came towards the door and spiralled upwards."

The flames made "a massive whoosh sound" as they came out of the front door, he told the court.

The court heard Mr Shelley rang for the emergency services and began to describe what he was seeing.

He said that after running home for a torch, he had returned to the fire and saw a man inside the property saying he could not get close to the window.

The jury then listened to a recording of his 999 call in which he told how people were unable to get break a window to escape.

He was heard to say: "I don't think that they will be able to breathe much longer."

Ms Smith denies five charges of murder and also denies a charge of making an earlier threat to burn down the home of Samantha Schofield.

The trial continues.

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