North East Wales

Prestatyn fire: Melanie Smith 'scared' Lee-Anna Shiers

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Media captionOne of the first firefighters at the scene of a blaze which killed five people describes it as an inferno

A woman who died in a fire alongside four members of her family was scared of the neighbour accused of starting the blaze, a jury has 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.

Landlord Jay Liptrot, who attended the blaze as a firefighter, told Mold Crown Court there was a confrontation between Ms Shiers and neighbour Melanie Smith.

Ms Smith, 42, denies murder.

The court heard how Mr Liptrot owns 12 properties in the Prestatyn area, and was on the first appliance to arrive at the scene in October.

Wearing breathing apparatus, he was one of three who entered the burning building, and found Mr Timbrell on the first floor.

He told how Ms Shiers and three children were trapped in the second floor bedrooms but he managed to bring two of them out.

He said: "Everything was on fire. The ceiling was coming down. There was so much smoke."

Ms Shiers, her four-year-old nephew Bailey and niece Skye, two, who were staying the night, all died at the scene.

Her son Charlie and partner Mr Timbrell were rescued by firefighters but died later in hospital.

Ms Smith, 42, who lived in the flat below the victims, is accused of deliberately setting fire to a pushchair because she was angry Ms Shiers had left it in a shared hallway.

Mr Liptrot, owner of the three-storey semi-detached house, told the jury that a month before the fire he had given Ms Smith notice to leave the property.

He described how, on 1 September 2012, Ms Smith telephoned and asked him to go to the house because of a "big argument".

He said: "Mel said she wanted me to come round and sort it out. When I got there she was standing on the front path and was drunk.

"She was shouting and being abusive to Lee-Anna and a lady who was standing with her.

"I couldn't get the gist of what it was about because she was being so abusive. Lee-Anna was quiet."

'Very drunk'

He said he asked both women to return to their flats and he followed Ms Smith into her property.

"Mel was screaming and shouting at me," he added. "She kept repeating herself and she was very drunk, complaining about Lee-Anna upstairs.

"I said this couldn't carry on and she [Ms Smith] had to go."

He said Ms Smith's initial response was: "You don't know who I am. I've been to prison."

However, he said she went on to say she wanted to leave.

He added: "I then went upstairs to speak to Lee-Anna. She was scared of Mel. She didn't like the confrontation and the arguments."

Mr Liptrot also told the court how he bumped into Ms Smith on 19 October, the day of the fire.

She was agitated when she spoke about the mess in the porch, he said.

Ms Smith denies five counts of murder and the trial continues.

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