'Jealous' neighbour found guilty of Prestatyn fire deaths

Melanie Smith, 43, has been found guilty of murdering five members of the same family.
Melanie Smith, 43, has been found guilty of murdering five members of the same family. Photo: North Wales Police Handout

A "drunk and jealous" woman has been found guilty of murdering five members of the same family after she started a devastating blaze following a row about a pushchair.

Melanie Smith, 43, deliberately set fire to the pushchair because she was angry it had been left in a shared hallway, her trial at Mold Crown Court heard.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her four-year-old nephew, Bailey, and two-year-old niece, Skye, died in the arson attack at their home in Prestatyn, North Wales, on 19 October last year.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, and Liam Timbrell, 23, died in the blaze.
Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, and Liam Timbrell, 23, died in the blaze. Credit: North Wales Police Handout

Ms Shiers' 15-month-old son Charlie and his father Liam Timbrell, 23, were rescued from the first-floor flat by firefighters, but died later in hospital.

The court was told Smith carried out the "terrible and wicked deed" because she was "drunk and angry", disillusioned with her boyfriend, very unhappy in her flat and jealous of the woman who lived upstairs.

Smith, who lived in the flat below the victims, was found guilty of all five counts of murder and one count of making threats of arson.

ITV News Correspondent Damon Green reports:

Speaking outside court, Ms Shiers' parents, Joy and Peter Shiers, said they were "overjoyed" with the verdicts and paid tribute to the "angels" who died.

I'm sorry for her [Smith's] family but for me and my family, we are overjoyed that we have got justice.

Anna was such a lovely, bubbly girl and Liam a very caring dad. Both of them were heroes because we know they would have done everything to rescue the children.

There's no reason for what happened and we're never going to get a reason because she's [Smith's] still saying she's not done anything.

She hasn't just taken Anna, Liam and the children, she's taken our way of life, our friends, our family. They should never let her out.

– Lee-Anne Shiers' mother, 45-year-old Joy Shiers.

Smith appeared to collapse into the security guard next to her as the first guilty verdict was returned, minutes after judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams had told the jury he would accept majorities of 10 to two.

The victims' relatives were heard crying in the public gallery above the courtroom as others shouted, "Yes".

Bailey Allen, four, and Skye Allen, two died in the blaze.
Bailey Allen, four, and Skye Allen, two died in the blaze. Credit: North Wales Police Handout

The judge told the court he wanted "time to reflect" before passing sentence, though he warned Smith her life sentence was fixed by law.

During the three-week trial, the jury heard that Smith had a "propensity" to threaten people by saying she would burn their houses down "with their children inside" and made a string of threats to Ms Shiers in the weeks before the fire.

They were told Smith had been increasingly angry with Ms Shiers, accusing her of being a noisy and untidy neighbour, and that she complained to others about Ms Shiers leaving the pushchair in the hallway.

Lee-Anna and Liam's 15-month-old son, Charlie Timbrell died in hospital.
Lee-Anna and Liam's 15-month-old son, Charlie Timbrell died in hospital. Credit: North Wales Police Handout

Prosecution barrister Ian Murphy QC told the jury that Smith was drunk and started the fire "in a rage" after hearing Ms Shiers and Mr Timbrell having sex upstairs.

The court was also played a harrowing 999 call in which Mr Timbrell shouted, "Oh my God, oh my God, we're going to die".

The jury was told that Mr Timbrell later told rescuing paramedics that "it was arson" and "it was Mel", and said he heard Smith shouting through the letterbox that she was going to burn the house down.

Smith will return to court on the 8th May when she will be told the minimum term of her life sentence.