Children murdered in petrol-bombing finally laid to rest
Four little coffins have been carried into church as the funerals of children murdered in a petrol-bombing of their home began, watched by hundreds of mourners.
Demi Pearson, 15, brother Brandon, eight, and sisters Lacie, seven, and Lia, three, died in the arson attack which turned their home into an inferno last December.
Hundreds of people lined the route of the funeral procession, but the children's mother, Michelle Pearson, 36, who was badly injured in the blaze at her home in Jackson Street, Walkden, Greater Manchester, was unable to attend as she is still unwell.
The funeral procession was led by a kilted bagpipers playing a mournful lament, accompanied by drummers and followed by family and friends, walking close behind four horse-drawn carriages, each bearing a coffin.
Two white horses pulled each carriage, with the names of the child on top in flowers and a portrait photo beside each coffin.
Pallbearers broke into tears as they passed a guard of honour of firefighters, the men and women who went into the house engulfed in flames and tried in vain to rescue the children.
Demi's coffin and carriage were multi-coloured, in memory of a teenager who was fond of music and planned to go to college.
Next came Brandon's, an Avengers-themed coffin, adorned with pictures of superhero figures.
Then followed Lacie's coffin, with a picture of a pink My Little Pony for the girl described by family as a "little diva".
Last came Lia, the smallest coffin of all, with a picture of cartoon character Peppa Pig.
Mrs Pearson's mother Sandra Lever was among the hundreds of mourners filing into church for the start of the service at St Paul's Church in Walkden, a quarter of a mile from their home.
Mrs Lever has said the children had all been "lovely, happy angels".
Ariana Grande's version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow played as the coffins were carried inside for the start of the service, mourners filling the church, with dozens of others listening to a loudspeaker relaying the service to those still outside.
Reverend Gill Page told them they were there to celebrate the lives of four "precious" children for the short time they spent on Earth.
The words of Michelle Pearson, still being treated in hospital for her injuries, were read by her sister Claire Pearson.
The mother described Lia as a "right little chatterbox", and said just thinking of Lacie, who loved to dance, made her smile through her tears.
Brandon loved technology and computers and had promised to build his mother a new house when he grew up, and Demi would stay out later than she should.
The service, lasting around two hours, included cherished happy memories, music and images of the children playing on screens in the church, along with Bible readings and prayers.
After the final commendation and blessing, each of the four coffins were carried out to Angel by Sarah McLachlan before a private burial for family only.
The children's killers, who had "terrorised" mother-of-six Michelle Pearson, are all serving lengthy jail terms.
The youngsters were murdered as they slept in their beds after Zak Bolland, 23, and David Worrall, 26, smashed a kitchen window and threw petrol bombs inside in the dead of night over a petty feud with Mrs Pearson's teenage son Kyle.
Mrs Pearson woke up screaming as flames engulfed the house at 5am last December 11.
She was rescued with Lia, who died in hospital two days later.
Bolland and Worrall were both given four life sentences for murder after a trial in May and must serve a minimum of 40 and 37 years respectively before parole.
Bolland's girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, was jailed for 21 years for four counts of manslaughter.
Mrs Pearson had made a series of complaints to police and her housing provider Salford Council, asking to be moved.
An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct is ongoing.