Hundreds gathered today to bid an emotional farewell to Demi, Brandon, Lacie and Lia Pearson, who were laid to rest in themed coffins
Four children killed in a petrol bomb attack as they slept at their home were today carried into their funeral in age order by heartbroken family members and friends.
Mourners struggled to fight back tears and bagpipers played Amazing Grace as the youngsters’ themed coffins were taken into the service, while firefighters formed a guard of honour.
Demi Pearson, 15, and her siblings Brandon, eight, Lacie, seven, and Lia, three, all died after suffering smoke inhalation and burns in the horrific fire in December.
Nine months on, they are finally being laid to rest by their loved ones today – but tragically, their mum Michelle wasn’t able to leave hospital to attend their funeral.
In an emotional tribute read to the congregation, she said: “They were the twinkle in my eye, now they are angels in the sky. One day we will be reunited together forever.”
Michelle, 36, suffered severe burns and was left in a coma after two lit petrol bombs were tossed inside the Greater Manchester home.
Despite her courage and determination to attend the service, she could not go due to “unforeseen medical circumstances”, her family confirmed yesterday.
In Michelle’s heartrending tribute she described Lia as “having a smile that melted your heart.”
Of Lacie, she said: “She loves to dance and sing. She would turn the TV on and just sing and dance along. It makes me smile just thinking about it.”
She described Brandon as ‘a little architect in the making. He promised me he would build me a house’.
Paying tribute to Demi, Michelle’s tribute added: “We did a lot together. She was my best friend.”
This morning, the siblings from Salford, were carried through the streets – lined by well wishers – to their funeral on four beautiful horse-drawn carriages.
Three were white and the one carrying Demi was rainbow-themed. On the tops of the carriages were flowers spelling out the children’s names.
Hundreds gathered to bid a heartbreaking farewell and crowds fell silent as the procession led by bagpipers and drummers filed past.
Mourners wiped away tears and comforted each other before the emotional service began.
The children were carried in themed coffins – Demi’s being based on music, Brandon’s on Avengers, Lacie’s on My Little Pony and Lia’s on Peppa Pig .
As the coffins entered the church, Ariana Grande’s cover of Somewhere over the Rainbow was played.
Among the mourners were the firefighters who battled to save the family’s lives from the burning home, the Manchester Evening News reports.
“They faced on the night one of the hardest jobs they ever faced,” area manager Ben Levy said.
The Revd Gill Page said Jackson Street, where the children had lived, became a ‘beacon of light and love’ following the fire.
Rev Page told of how the community shared their ‘outrage’ following the tragedy and that ‘strangers have wept together in shared grief and anguish.’
She added: “Walkden will never forget these little angels. Demi, Brandon, Lacie and Lia Pearson – four siblings and four best friends.”
During the service, a PowerPoint presentation of pictures, videos and tributes was played inside to some of the family’s favourite music.
Those gathered outside listened in the rain.
The procession had started on Jackson Street in the Walkden area – the same road that the murder was carried out in just a fortnight before Christmas.
It left at 10am and was due to travel through St Mary’ Park and to Bridgewater Primary School, where Brandon and Lacie had been pupils.
It was then continued to St Paul’s Church for the service.
Mourners were asked to wear “black and pink for girls and black and blue for boys”.
A family member told Mirror Online there would be “plenty of family speeches”.
Following the service, the siblings were laid to rest together at a private burial.
Seriously ill Michelle had been determined to take the huge step of leaving hospital today to say an emotional goodbye to her four children.
The mum, who was described as still “critical” by loved ones in July, only recently managed to talk again and has been struggling to eat.
She has spent months fighting for her life, has battled a number of infections and has even had one of her eyes stitched shut because of her injuries.
Last month, a relative told us she would be attending the funeral “from the hospital” and that the family hoped it would be a “nice, peaceful day”.
The relative said: “The public is welcome to walk behind the horse and carriages up to the service. They are also welcome to the service and can line the streets in a mark of respect, however the burial and wake are private.
“We just want it to be a nice peaceful day and to give the kids a really good send-off.”
They added: “Michelle will be attending.
“She will have to go from the hospital.”
But yesterday, Michelle’s mother Sandra Lever wrote on Facebook : “Due to unforeseen medical circumstances Michelle want be able to attend the children’s funeral on Friday (sic).”
Other users said they were “heartbroken” and “gutted” for the mum.
One replied: “We will all make her proud Sandra and give them the best send off big hugs and kisses too Michelle we all love her n miss her loads keep fighting iron lady xxxx (sic).”
At the time of the fire, Michelle screamed “Not the kids! Not my kids!” before being overcome by the smoke, heat and flames that had filled her home
She was rescued from the property along with youngest daughter Lia – but the little girl tragically died in hospital two days after the incident.
Demi, Brandon and Lacie, who had been sleeping in a front bedroom when the house was petrol-bombed, all perished in the blaze, a court heard.
The “beautiful” children suffered cardiac arrests and died as a result of a combination of smoke inhalation and burns following the fire.
Despite her injuries and grief, Michelle was said last month to be making progress – with her proud relatives supporting her each step of the way.
The relative told us: “It’s a slow and long process but it will get better.”
Today’s funeral took place nine months after the early-morning attack – and four months after two men were jailed for life for the children’s murders.
Zak Bolland, 23, was handed four life terms and told he must serve at least 40 years behind bars by a judge at Manchester Crown Court in May.
David Worrall, 26, was ordered to serve a minimum term of 37 years in prison.
Bolland was also convicted of three counts of attempted murder relating to Michelle, her son Kyle Pearson, 17, and his pal, Bobby Harris.
However, Worrall was found not guilty of three counts of attempted murder.
A third defendant, Courtney Brierley, 20, was found not guilty of murdering the children, but convicted of the alternative of manslaughter in each case.
She was handed 21 years in a young offenders’ institution.
Bolland had admitted reckless arson, a charge denied by the other two.
In a statement, read out on the steps of the court after the verdicts, Ms Lever, the children’s gran, said: “Today may be the end of the trial but it is not the end for us as we try to recover and get on with out lives.
“Michelle, the children’s mum, is still recovering from her injuries, and will be in hospital for some time to come. The staff have been amazing and are trying their best to fix her, but they will never be able to fix her broken heart.
“We miss the children every day, our lives are just not the same without them.”
The statement continued: “We will never again hear their voices… that thought leaves us numb.
“I hope that Bolland, Worrall and Brierley know that they have taken away the light of our lives. We are very happy today with the results and would like to thank all those who have helped us to get justice.”
The court had heard Bolland had been involved in a “petty” feud with Kyle.
The lit petrol bombs were tossed inside the home at around 5am on December 11, 2017, with the second device ‘exploding’ near the stairs.
This blocked the only exit to the ground floor and trapped the victims upstairs as flames engulfed the house, the court was told.
Kyle and Bobby survived the attack, along with Michelle.
Loved ones asked for family flowers only today.
Donations can be made to a charity chosen by Michelle.
The family earlier thanked supporters for “everything” they have done, but asked them to respect that the burial and wake would be private.