Walkden fire: Zak Bolland and David Worrall found guilty of murdering Michelle Pearson in fire that killed four children

  • Report by Rachel Townsend

Two men who were convicted of killing four children in an arson attack have now been found guilty of murdering their mother - injured in the same fire.

Demi Pearson, 15, her brother Brandon, aged eight, sister Lacie, aged seven, and baby sister Lia, aged three, all died after the fire at their family home in Walkden, Greater Manchester, in December 2017.

The children's mother, Michelle Pearson, was severely injured in the blaze. She died in hospital 20 months later.

Following a three week trial, Zak Bolland, 26, and David Worrall, 28, were found guilty of Michelle's murder.

Michelle's four youngest children all died after the fire.

In an earlier murder trial for Demi, Brandon, Lacie, and Lia, the jury heard how Bolland and Worrall set fire to the Pearson family home as the culmination of a series of tit-for-tat attacks while feuding with the 16-year-old son of Michelle Pearson.

The pair had made homemade petrol bombs in the kitchen of a nearby address with friend Courtney Brierley, 24.

Brierley then waited in a nearby car as Bolland and Worrall smashed the kitchen window of the Pearson’s home and threw the bombs into the kitchen and living room.

The house was immediately engulfed in flames, and left no possibility of escape for the young children or their mother as they slept inside.

Despite the extent of her injuries, Michelle Pearson still managed to fundraise for the Wythenshawe burns unit.


Zak Bolland and David Worrall have been found guilty of murdering Michelle. They had already been jailed for killing her children. Credit: GMP

Michelle was rescued from the house on Jackson Street before being placed in a coma, but passed away in August 2019 - 20 months after suffering 70% burns.

Her injuries were described as horrific, but from her hospital bed she recorded a touching message showing her appreciation for those who had tried to help her family.

The message was released ahead of vigil organised by the community to mark 12 months since the fire.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Boland and Worral had continually threatened the Pearson family following a row with Kyle Pearson over damage to Bolland's car.

In the weeks before deadly fire, Bolland had sent messages to the family, demanding £500.

A wheelie bin had also been set on fire and Bolland had told Michelle Pearson he was "going to do your house".

The family's home after the fire in 2017.

Bolland and Worrall were convicted of the children's murders after a trial in May 2018. Michelle died in August 2019.

In a new trial at Manchester Crown Court following Michelle's death, the prosecution made the case that Michelle Pearson died as a result of the injuries she sustained.

The jury found both defendants guilty of murder - while Brierley, earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter - they will each be sentenced on 21 April.

Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Chatterton, from GMP's Major Investigation Team, said: "This was a heartbreaking case and I'm glad that Bolland and Worrall have now faced justice for the devastating death of Michelle too - 20 months on.

"The bravery shown by the family and those affected has been outstanding - they have shown so much strength throughout both of our investigations.

"That night in 2018 rocked the community and has turned the family's life upside down. Nothing can bring Michelle and the children back but I hope they can now be given time to grieve and come to terms with what has happened.

"All of our thoughts are with the family who have been through such a difficult time and have had to sit through two trials and listen to details on what was a horrific and planned attack."