A woman jailed for helping arsonists torch a family home – killing four children – has launched a bid to be freed from jail.
Courtney Brierley, 20, has lodged an appeal against her conviction and sentence. She was jailed for manslaughter earlier this year for helping two men – her then-boyfriend Zak Bolland and his accomplice, David Worrall – carry out the 5am petrol bomb attack on a family home in Walkden.
Demi Pearson, 15, and her siblings Brandon, eight; Lacie, seven; and three-year-old Lia were all killed. Their mother Michelle, 36, was rescued but was seriously hurt.
The attack was the devastating climax to a feud involving Bolland and Kyle Pearson, Michelle Pearson’s eldest son, who escaped the blaze. Bolland is serving life and appears to have accepted his fate – he has not lodged an appeal. Neither has his partner-in-crime David Worrall.
A woman who claims to have served time with Courtney Brierley told the M.E.N that the 20-year-old was ‘broken’ behind bars.
It is understood Brierley is serving her sentence at HMP Bronzefield in Surrey which houses some of the nation’s most dangerous female prisoners, including Joanna Dennehy, who stabbed three men to death in 2013.
Brierley spent time on remand at the prison and is serving her jail sentence there, housed in the same block as about 80 other serious offenders, the M.E.N understands.
One prisoner, now released, told the M.E.N: “Courtney was very, very quiet, very broken. I didn’t know what she’d done until after I’d left and I was horrified, you just would not have thought it of her.”
She described how Brierley was housed in a block with lifers.
“Courtney came straight in on remand and was put in a single cell which she rarely left. She was employed as a cleaner but was always being chased by senior prison officers to come and do her work,” said the woman.
She added: “She always looked like she’d been crying, was very, very quiet, didn’t make friends with anyone, rarely ate.
“She was completely broken and received a lot of one to one time in her cell from the prison officers.”
When she was returned to the prison to begin her sentence following a period on remand there, Brierley was in a ‘very bad way’, the woman told us.
Courtney Brierley helped Zak Bolland and David Worrall carry out the attack On December 11 2017, urging them to put their hoods up as they purchased the petrol used in the firebombing and then going with them in the car that took them and the petrol bombs to Jackson Street in Walkden.
Brierley had claimed she acted because she was in fear of her violent and abusive boyfriend Bolland and had not realised exactly what he was about to do.
Following a trial at Manchester Crown Court , the jury found her not guilty of murder but convicted her of four counts of manslaughter.
She was sentenced to 21 years in a young offenders’ institution and can apply for parole halfway through her sentence.
Her legal team tried and failed to get the case against her thrown out mid-trial, arguing she had done little more than the prosecution’s main witness Abigail Toone, who had unwittingly acted as the trio’s getaway driver.
Bolland, 23, of Blackleach Drive, Worsley, was jailed for a minimum of 40 years after he was convicted of murder at the conclusion of that trial, which heard he threw a large petrol bomb into the house through a rear window as the family slept.
His friend Worrall, 26, of Worsley Avenue, Worsley, had thrown a smaller petrol bomb into the house but it had not caused significant damage. He was caged for a minimum 37 years after being convicted of murdering the children.