North East Wales

Prestatyn landlord Jay Liptrot on trial over fire deaths

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Media captionJay Liptrot had 15 years' experience as a firefighter

A Denbighshire landlord failed to put "basic safety precautions" in place at a flat where five people died in a fire, a court has heard.

Jay Liptrot, 43, owned the Prestatyn property where neighbour Melanie Smith set a pushchair alight following a row.

She was jailed in 2013 for murdering Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, Liam Timbrell, 23, their son Charlie, Ms Shiers' nephew Bailey, four, and niece Skye, two.

Mr Liptrot denies manslaughter at Caernarfon Crown Court.

On Tuesday, prosecution counsel Richard Matthews QC told the jury Mr Liptrot was a firefighter with 15 years experience and was "at the forefront of brave efforts" to rescue the five.

"However, it remains the case that it was his failure before that time, and before Melanie Smith set the pushchair alight with murderous intent, to put in place reasonable precautions to protect Liam and Lee-Anna," he said.

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Image caption The fire victims, clockwise from left: Liam Timbrell; Lee-Anna Shiers and her son Charlie; her niece Skye and nephew Bailey

Mr Matthews said Mr Liptriot had failed to safeguard his tenants against the risk of fire, noting that the door from the communal hallway to the maisonette where they died was "inadequate".

He described how the fire, once lit, went through the glass and thin wood door in minutes and funnelled heat, fire and smoke up the stairs "like a chimney".

Mr Timbrell desperately tried to smash the sealed upstairs windows "to the horror of those outside", the court heard.

As a firefighter, Mr Liptrot must have known there was "an obvious risk of fire", Mr Matthews said, adding that his failures had played "a substantial part in the deaths of each of them".

The trial continues.

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