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Man sentenced for sibling deaths
A teenager will be sentenced today over the deaths of four siblings from a house fire.
Four-year-old twins Holly and Ella Smith and their two-year-old brother Jordan were asleep as the blaze took hold in Freckleton, Lancashire, while elder brother Reece, 19, was overcome by fumes as he went upstairs to try to rescue them.
All four died from the effects of smoke inhalation from the blaze on January 7 last year.
In July, Dyson Allen, 19, was convicted of four counts of manslaughter by a jury at Preston Crown Court who found he had set fire to a bedroom wardrobe.
He was cleared of the siblings' murders but was told by a judge that he would face "a substantial prison sentence".
Allen denied all the charges and said it was not him who had started the fire.
The defendant was the only other person who was upstairs at the dormer bungalow when the fire broke out, said the Crown.
A birthday party was being held for the children's mother, Michelle Smith, at the address in Lytham Road.
The fatal fire began inside a wardrobe in the bedroom shared by the three young children and their mother. Three family friends were also in the house with the defendant who was a friend of another of Ms Smith's sons.
Allen was a regular visitor and stayed overnight the evening before the blaze, the jury was told. He spent most of the night on January 7 in the second upstairs bedroom, according to those who were in the house, said prosecutor Neil Flewitt QC.
Ms Smith, 37, said she said remembered the lights going off and then the defendant jumped down the stairs and shouted "Fire'' before he ran through the kitchen and out of the back door.
Ms Smith told police that smoke alarms had been fitted at the top and bottom of the stairs but Reece had taken them down in the days before the fire because one or both of them kept making beeping noises.
Mr Flewitt told the jury that several "'extremely detailed investigations" had taken place into the cause of the fire and the unanimous view of the experts was that it was started deliberately.
One expert concluded the fire started in the hanging clothes in the wardrobe, and the most likely source of ignition was a naked flame.
Sentencing takes place at Preston Crown Court.