A jealous neighbour who started a house fire that killed five members of the same family, including three young children, has been jailed for life.
Melanie Smith, 43, wept today as she was sentenced to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison over the fatal arson attack which ripped through the property in Prestatyn, north Wales, on October 19 last year.
She set fire to a pushchair left outside the home of neighbour Lee-Anna Shiers and her partner Liam Timbrell having grown ‘bitterly resentful of their happiness’.
Ms Shiers, 20, her four-year-old nephew, Bailey, and two-year-old niece, Skye, died in the blaze.
Her 15-month-old son Charlie and Mr Timbrell, 23, were rescued from the first-floor flat but died later in hospital.
On the night of the incident, Smith was drunk and started the fire after hearing the couple having sex in the flat upstairs.
Mr Justice Griffith-Williams said setting fire to the pushchair was an ‘act of exceptional wickedness, almost unparalleled in its consequences’.
‘My belief is that at that moment you were probably a very sad woman and it was the sound of Lee-Anna and Liam’s love-making from the flat above that overwhelmed you,’ he said.
‘Bitterly resentful of their happiness, you went outside and set fire to the pushchair. It follows that you acted on impulse and so this was not a premeditated act.’
A harrowing 999 call made by Mr Timbrell as the blaze engulfed the burning building was played in court last month.
The judge said the call would be forever ‘etched on the memories ‘ of those who heard the evidence at Mold crown court.
Steve Allen, the father of Bailey and Skye, said ‘one despicable person’ had taken his children away.
‘Nothing will ever bring any of our family back to us, but Melanie Smith will now be given what she deserves,’ he added.
‘Today is the next step towards grieving for our family.’