Prestatyn fire deaths trial: Judge tells jury to be 'dispassionate'

Clockwise from left: Liam Timbrell; Lee-Anna Shiers and son Charlie; niece Skye and nephew Bailey
Image caption Five members of the same family died after the fire

A judge has told a jury to put all emotion aside when considering its verdict against a woman accused of killing five members of a neighbour's family by setting fire to their home.

Mr Justice John Griffith Williams told the Mold Crown Court jury they must consider "dispassionately" the case of Melanie Smith, 43.

She denies murder and making threats to burn another woman's home.

Two adults and three children died after the fire in Prestatyn.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her nephew Bailey, four, niece Skye, two, partner Liam Timbrell, 23, and 15-month-old son Charlie all died last October.

Image caption Melanie Smith said she and Ms Shiers had got over their differences

The trial heard the fire spread upstairs to Ms Shiers' flat, trapping the family and killing Ms Shiers, her niece and nephew outright.

Mr Timbrell and Charlie died later in hospital.

At the end of the three-week trial, the judge told the jury to put aside the considerable sympathy and pity they would feel for the family's incalculable loss.

He said the victims were "trapped in what must have been absolute moments of terror" but said the jury should disregard feelings of emotion and compassion.

He said: "You must consider it objectively and dispassionately and above all, apply common sense."

The prosecution alleges Ms Smith started the fire in a row over a pushchair being left in the building's downstairs communal hallway.

But the defendant claimed that was not true and that she and Ms Shiers were friends at the time of the fire.

Ms Smith, who lived downstairs from Ms Shiers, has also denied making an earlier threat to burn the house of Samantha Schofield.

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