Freckleton fire: Dyson Allen 'started fire deliberately'

Reece Smith, Holly Smith, Ella Smith and Jordan Smith
Image caption Reece Smith, Holly Smith, Ella Smith and Jordan Smith died from the effects of smoke inhalation

Four siblings died from smoke inhalation after a teenager deliberately started a fire in a bedroom wardrobe, a court has heard.

Dyson Allen, 19, is charged with the murder of Reece Smith, 19, four-year-old twins Holly and Ella and Jordan, two, in a blaze at their Freckleton home on 7 January last year.

He was the only other person upstairs at the dormer bungalow when the fire broke out, Preston Crown Court heard.

He denies four counts of murder.

He also denies four alternative counts of manslaughter.

Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, said: "It is the prosecution's case that the defendant, Dyson Allen, was responsible for starting that fire and he did so deliberately."

The fire began inside a wardrobe in the bedroom shared by the three young children and their mother, Michelle Smith, said the prosecutor.

Three family friends were also in the house, along with the defendant, who was a friend of another of Ms Smith's sons.

'Memory not clear'

Mr Allen was a regular visitor and stayed overnight the evening before the blaze, the jury was told.

Mr Flewitt said Ms Smith had allowed Mr Allen to store some of his personal belongings in a bag in the young children's bedroom.

"The presence of that bag may be significant because it would provide a reason for Dyson Allen to go into that bedroom," he said.

"Apart from the three young children who were asleep in their beds, he was the only person upstairs when the fire started and he was the person that alerted the other occupants of the house to what was happening."

Mother-of-nine Ms Smith, 37, said the lights went off before the defendant jumped down the stairs and shouted "fire" before running through the kitchen and out of the back door.

Mr Flewitt said: "Michelle Smith's memory of subsequent events is understandably not clear but she recalls being taken out of the house and sitting on the little wall at the end of the driveway.

"She doesn't remember Reece going up the stairs but she remembers him being brought out and everyone gathering around him.

"Thereafter she was taken in a police car to the hospital where she discovered that four of her children had died in the fire."

Ms Smith told police that smoke alarms had been fitted at the top and bottom of the stairs but Reece Smith had taken them down in the days before the fire because one or both of them kept making beeping noises.

The trial continues.

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