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Two suspects charged with murder over Salford house fire

Zac Bolland charged with murder after arson attack in Manchester on Monday
23-year-old was arrested..

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  • Zac Bolland charged with murder after arson attack in Manchester on Monday
  • 23-year-old was arrested in the street around a mile from the fire-wrecked house
  • He is charged with three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder
  • His girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, has been charged with the same offences
  • Three children Demi, 14, Lacie, seven, and Brandon, eight, died in fire on Monday
  • Mother Michelle is fighting for life in hospital along with a three-year-old child
  • Mother-of-five was bringing up children alone after her partner died of cancer

By Martin Robinson, Uk Chief Reporter For Mailonline

Published: 01:55 EST, 13 December 2017 | Updated: 10:47 EST, 13 December 2017

Lia Pearson was rescued by fire crews from the burning terraced house in Walkden at 5am on Monday morning but has died 48 hours later

Lia Pearson was rescued by fire crews from the burning terraced house in Walkden at 5am on Monday morning but has died 48 hours later

The fourth child trapped in the arson attack that claimed the lives of three children has also died today after her life support machine was switched off.

Lia Pearson was rescued by fire crews from the burning terraced house in Walkden at 5am on Monday morning.

But after 48 hours in intensive care the little girl has passed away, her grandmother has revealed.

Sandra Lever posted on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon: 'Just letting everyone know they just turned life machine off on Lia she has passed away peacefully my beautiful granddaughter go find your brother 2 sisters love you all so much.'

Zac Bolland, 23, and his girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, appeared in court today charged with the murders of Michelle Pearson's daughter Demi, 14, son Brandon, eight, and daughter Lacie, seven.

It is now likely they will face a fourth murder charge after the three-year-old's death. They are also accused of attempted murder as well as arson with intent to endanger life.

Zac Bolland, 23, and Courtney Brierley, 20, (pictured together) have been charged with the arson attack that killed three children and almost killed four more

The couple appeared together in the dock together and will face Manchester Crown Court tomorrow

A prison van believed to be carrying murder suspects Zac Bolland, 23, and Courtney Brierley, 20, arrives at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court this morning

Three children died in the devastating house fire in Jackson Street, Walkden and another three-year-old is fighting for her lifeThree children died in the devastating house fire in Jackson Street, Walkden and another three-year-old is fighting for her life

Three children died in the devastating house fire in Jackson Street, Walkden and another three-year-old is fighting for her life

A forensics officer inspects the chimney where a fire bomb is believed to have been dropped into the house belowA forensics officer inspects the chimney where a fire bomb is believed to have been dropped into the house below

A forensics officer inspects the chimney where a fire bomb is believed to have been dropped into the house below

The couple only spoke to confirm their names and ages before being remanded in custody until tomorrow when they will appear together in the dock at Manchester Crown Court.

Miss Brierley Miss Brierley 

Miss Brierley was arrested at the same time as her boyfriend on Monday night after being pulled over by police

Three petrol bombs are believed to have been thrown into the house – including one down the chimney – killing Michelle Pearson's daughter Demi, 14, son Brandon, eight, and daughter Lacie, seven, as they slept in Walkden, Greater Manchester at 5am on Monday.

Their mother, 35, is heavily sedated in hospital and unaware of the tragedy while a three-year-old child remains in a critical condition today.

Bolland was arrested in the street after police dragged him from his car with Brierley on Monday night as a crowd screamed abuse.

As Courtney and Zac stood together in grey jumpers and tracksuit bottoms, they stared intently at district judge Khalid Qureshi as he read out the charges against them.

Courtney wore her black hair loose and no make up. She had a look of distress on her face as she was quickly led out in handcuffs by a guard.

Zac held a blank expression as he heard the charges and failed to glance at his girlfriend throughout the two minute hearing.

No family are believed to have been present in court, of either the accused or their victims.

No details of the case were presented in court as District Judge Khalid Quereshi said the matter was too serious to be dealt with in his jurisdiction and will be heard again on Thursday at Manchester Crown Court.

Neighbours of Zac Bolland claimed today the house he shares with his mother had its windows smashed around two weeks ago.

Police cordoned off his house yesterday and removed evidence including empty bottles and a length of pipe.

A woman round the corner from the Pearson's home said: 'I was physically sick when I heard those kids had died. I hope whoever's done this rots in hell'.

Describing Zac Bolland's arrest at around 7pm last night Kyle Skelhorn, 31, said: 'My girlfriend was coming home from work last night at about 6pm and she was adamant she'd seem him driving down the road.

'She said: 'I'm sure he's just driven past in a car'. We saw him being pulled from the car by police and being patted down. He flipped his hood up over his head when he saw I was videoing him. The police led him away to a van.

'We've had dealings with Zac Bolland in the past – he's not a pleasant person'.

Lauren Murray, who captured the moment in Grosvenor Road at around 6pm, said: 'I was walking down the street to go home and saw the police driving down really slow and then they pulled up outside my house.

'The next thing, I saw Zak in a silver car so I got my phone out and started filming. Courtney was sat in the back of the car surrounded by police while he was led away, her face was just white.'

Bolland who has been charged with murder over the alleged arson attack that killed three children and critically injured anotherBolland who has been charged with murder over the alleged arson attack that killed three children and critically injured another

Bolland who has been charged with murder over the alleged arson attack that killed three children and critically injured another

Bolland, 23, was today charged with three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder as well as arson with intent to endanger life. His girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, has been charged with the same offenceBolland, 23, was today charged with three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder as well as arson with intent to endanger life. His girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, has been charged with the same offenceBolland, 23, was today charged with three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder as well as arson with intent to endanger life. His girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, has been charged with the same offenceBolland, 23, was today charged with three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder as well as arson with intent to endanger life. His girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, has been charged with the same offence

Bolland, 23, was today charged with three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder as well as arson with intent to endanger life. His girlfriend Courtney Brierley, 20, has been charged with the same offences

This is the moment a suspect in the Salford arson attack (pictured in a white top) was arrested on suspicion of murder in front of a crowd baying for his blood

Brandon, eight, and Lacie, seven, pictured with Peppa Pig, also died following the tragedy in the early hours of MondayBrandon, eight, and Lacie, seven, pictured with Peppa Pig, also died following the tragedy in the early hours of Monday

Brandon, eight, and Lacie, seven, pictured with Peppa Pig, also died following the tragedy in the early hours of Monday

Brandon Pearson, eight, and Lacie Pearson, seven, died in the Manchester fire (pictured together)Brandon Pearson, eight, and Lacie Pearson, seven, died in the Manchester fire (pictured together)

Brandon Pearson, eight, and Lacie Pearson, seven, died in the Manchester fire (pictured together)

Demi Pearson, 14, was the eldest child to be killed in the deliberate fire in Manchester yesterday as it emerged police had already been to their house hours earlierDemi Pearson, 14, was the eldest child to be killed in the deliberate fire in Manchester yesterday as it emerged police had already been to their house hours earlierMother Michelle, 35, survived but is fighting for her lifeMother Michelle, 35, survived but is fighting for her life

Demi Pearson, 14, was the eldest child to be killed in the deliberate fire in Manchester yesterday as it emerged police had already been to their house hours earlier. Her mother Michelle, 35, survived but is fighting for her life

Timeline: How the fire horror unfolded

2am

Police called to the house after an incident and leave again.

4.58am

Fire service called to Jackson Street in Walkden, Salford, after reports of a large fire in terraced house.

7.26am

Street closed off as it emerges six people – five from the same family – are taken to hospital.

12.11pm

Neighbours describe hearing 'screaming and banging' during the night and a 'quite loud' argument

1.41pm

Police confirmed three children died in the fire and a three-year-old girl remained in hospital in a critical condition with her 35-year-old mother

2.46pm

First victim of the fire was named as 14-year-old Demi Pearson.

6.58pm

Police arrest man, 23, and a woman, 20, on suspicion of murder.

7.58pm

Demi's younger brother Brandon, eight, and his sister Lacie, seven, named as victims.

8.51pm

Police make three further arrests. Two men, 18 and 20, held on suspicion of murder. Man, 24, held on suspicion of assisting an offender

Source: MEN

A neighbour of Courtney's mum Jackie, in Worsley, Manchester said 'They have a real reputation in the area. Everyone will know who Courtney is.

'I know the family live here but I wouldn't be surprised if they get moved off the estate after all of this.

'She hung around more on another estate so we didn't see her that much but we knew her when she was here.

'It's awful what has happened and I don't know what led to it.

'I really wouldn't be surprised if they get moved.'

It has also emerged that Michelle Pearson has suffered a number of tragedies in recent years and was forced to bring up her five children alone after her long term partner Paul died of cancer a year ago.

Family friend Kyle Skelhorn, 31, said: 'It's devastating. The mum tries her hardest to make ends meet. It's a crying shame a poor family can experience this'.

Floral tributes, toys and candles have swamped the pavement outside the house.

Investigators, wearing white plastic suits, took pictures of the roof and chimney of the burned-out property.

The heavy-duty blockade is lined with police vehicles and officers making enquiries as they patrol the scene.

The large steel blanket blocks off public access to the street as people from the surrounding community pay tributes.

A smiley emoji soft-toy placed underneath the Jackson Street road sign has the words 'RIP Demi, Brandon and Lacie' penned across it.

A fundraising site has also been launched to support the family with £1,000 raised from a £2,000 target.

The fire may have been started after fuel was poured into the house from the roof and set alight after clambering up some scaffolding.

Pictures from the scene today show the fire-damaged window frames of the house. There are claims the fire may have been started via the chimney after climbing up the scaffolding (pictured left) and forensics teams are using a high ladder to inspect its roofPictures from the scene today show the fire-damaged window frames of the house. There are claims the fire may have been started via the chimney after climbing up the scaffolding (pictured left) and forensics teams are using a high ladder to inspect its roof

Pictures from the scene today show the fire-damaged window frames of the house. There are claims the fire may have been started via the chimney after climbing up the scaffolding (pictured left) and forensics teams are using a high ladder to inspect its roof

A plastic bottle and a length or pipe was taken away from a property around a mile from the fire where the suspect is believed to live with his motherA plastic bottle and a length or pipe was taken away from a property around a mile from the fire where the suspect is believed to live with his mother

A plastic bottle and a length or pipe was taken away from a property around a mile from the fire where the suspect is believed to live with his mother

The scorched and fire damaged windows of the property where three 'petrol-fuelled' fires are believed to have been started while the family slept insideThe scorched and fire damaged windows of the property where three 'petrol-fuelled' fires are believed to have been started while the family slept inside

The scorched and fire damaged windows of the property where three 'petrol-fuelled' fires are believed to have been started while the family slept inside

Neighbours of Bolland's described their shock today.

One father-of-two on the street said: 'They're an alright family. There were four boys that were all brothers and their mum, from what I could tell.

'I work nights and didn't see or hear anything until I came home from work yesterday morning and the police were sat outside.

'The lads were alright to talk to when they walked past. There was Zac who I'd say was around 23, an older one I think then there were two others who were teenagers or about 20.

'I'd see them on the street and say hello but that's it. I never saw them involved in any trouble on this street.

Another neighbour, who didn't wish to be named said: 'I'm friends with their mum and only saw her on Sunday afternoon.

'She never mentioned any trouble. She moaned about typical stuff that young lads get up to but never anything like that. Their mum is a good woman.'

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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

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In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

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A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

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Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

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Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

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