Children killed in devastating house fire after parents smoked in bed

The Daily Star’s FREE newsletter is spectacular! Sign up today for the best stories straight to your inbox

Four children were killed in a house fire started by a discarded cigarette after the parents smoked in bed, an inquest heard.

Siblings Riley Holt, aged eight, six-year-old Keegan Unitt, Tilly Rose Unitt, aged four, and three-year-old Olly Unitt all passed away after the blaze in Stafford, Staffordshire, on February 5 last year.

Dad Christopher Moulton suffered serious burns to his hands and was unable to save the children, who were sleeping in other bedrooms.

Mr Moulton said he and partner Natalie Unitt were able to escape through the bedroom window, Stoke on Trent Live reports.

They were initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence.

But police later confirmed no further action was being taken against them after a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Leigh Richards, from West Midlands Fire Service, said he believed the fire had started with a discarded cigarette on the bed.

The couple admitted they had both been smoking in bed, despite an earlier warning from social care services.

This then caused a "flashover", with everything in the master bedroom becoming alight.

Mr Richards suggested that Ms Unitt had gone downstairs to get water to throw on the fire, but was unable to get back up to the bedrooms.

  • The Queen and Prince Philip still don't understand why Harry left, claims royal expert

He said she appeared to have escaped via a downstairs door.

The couple disputed Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s conclusion on the origins of the fire.

Ms Unitt and Mr Moulton said they were woken up by the fire, which appeared to be on the landing.

She said the first thing she was aware of was a "heaviness" in her chest, adding: "I still have nightmares about it now.”

Ms Unitt also said she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • UK records highest ever daily increase in Covid cases as more than 33k test positive

Their youngest child, who was aged two at the time, survived the fire as he had been sleeping near his parents.

Police and fire investigators noted there were discrepancies in the parents' accounts, both in relation to each other and to the evidence found at the scene.

South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh described it as a tragedy, saying: "My hope is the children died quite peacefully in their beds."

He recorded a narrative conclusion, saying it was due to fumes from the fire caused by unextinguished cigarettes.

The tragedy led to an outpouring of grief across the local community, with vigils, processions and tributes held in memory of the youngsters.

  • Fire

Source: Read Full Article