Woman convicted in arson crime that killed four children is 'broken' and appeals for jail release

Courtney Brierley was sentenced to 21 years in prison for her role in the arson and has now lodged an appeal against her conviction and sentence


                            Woman convicted in arson crime that killed four children is 'broken' and appeals for jail release

A woman convicted of helping arsonists plant a petrol bomb in a family home which ended up killing four innocent children has now started a bid to be released from prison. The 20-year-old woman, Courtney Brierley, was accused of working with her then-boyfriend, Zak Bolland, and his accomplice, David Worrall, to help them launch the fire attack on a family home located in Walkden, Greater Manchester. The children - 15-year-old Demi Pearson, eight-year-old Brandon, seven-year-old Lacie, and three-year-old Lia - were all killed in the attack. Their mother, 36-year-old Michelle Pearson, was rescued from the flames but was seriously injured.

Mirror Online reported that the attack had been the catastrophic culmination of a feud that involved Bolland and Pearson's eldest son, Kyle, who managed to escape the flames that gutted his home. Brierley was sentenced to 21 years in prison for her role in the arson and has now lodged an appeal against her conviction and sentence.

Courtney Brierley (Source: Greater Manchester Police)
Courtney Brierley (Source: Greater Manchester Police)

A prisoner who claimed she served time in prison with Brierley told the Manchester Evening News that the 20-year-old was "broken" in jail. The now released prisoner said: "Courtney was very, very quiet, very broken. I didn't know what she'd done until after I'd left and I was horrified, you just would not have thought it of her." She also described how Brierley was being kept in a block which houses prisoners with life sentences.

The woman added: "Courtney came straight in on remand and was put in a single cell which she rarely left. She was employed as a cleaner but was always being chased by senior prison officers to come and do her work. She always looked like she'd been crying, was very, very quiet, didn't make friends with anyone, rarely ate. She was completely broken and received a lot of one to one time in her cell from the prison officers." The woman told the publication that when she went back to prison to start her sentence after a period of remand, Brierley was in a "very bad way".

Brierley had helped Bolland and Worrall carry out the horrific attack on December 11, 2017. It was reported that she made them put their hoods up when they went to buy the fuel that was used in the attack and then took them to the home on Jackson Street in Walkden. The 20-year-old also claimed that she took part in the attack because she had been afraid of her violent and abusive ex. She also claimed that she had not known what Bolland's plan was at the time.

Zak Bolland (L) and David Worrall (R) (Source: Greater Manchester Police)
Zak Bolland (L) and David Worrall (R) (Source: Greater Manchester Police)

After the trial took place at the Manchester Crown Court, the jury declared that she was not guilty of murder but convicted her on four counts of manslaughter. Brierley was sentenced to 21 years in a young offenders' institution with a chance of applying for parole after half her sentence was completed. Her attorneys did not succeed in getting her case thrown out mid-trial after arguing that she only did a little bit more than the main witness for the prosecution, Abigail Toone, who was the getaway driver.

The 23-year-old Bolland from Worsley was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in jail after he was convicted of murder. The court heard that he threw a large petrol bomb into the family home through a window at the back of the property when the family was sleeping. His accomplice and friend, 26-year-old Worrall from Worsley, threw a smaller petrol bomb into the house that did not cause any major damage. He was sentenced to 37 years in prison after he was convicted of murdering the four children.