The brother of four children killed in the Walkden arson attack was imprisoned after being found with a makeshift rifle.
Lewis Pearson, 20, lost his three sisters, his younger brother – and later his mother – in the bomb attack on the Salford family home in December 2017.
He was locked up for five years after admitting he had stockpiled a makeshift rifle and ammunition in his apartment in Little Hulton.
Manchester Crown Court learned that Pearson had hidden the firearm for an associate, who was subsequently killed. The deceased’s name was not revealed in court.
Pearson’s defense attorney argued that the tragedy he suffered means that the judge could impose a lenient moral judgment due to exceptional circumstances.
But Judge Alan Conrad QC said he could not justify abandoning the mandatory five-year sentence set by Parliament.
Demi Pearson, 15, the sisters Lacie, seven, Lia, three and brother Brandon, eight, died in the horrible fire of their home in Jackson Street.
Lewis’s mother, Michelle, died in August 2019 – 20 months after escaping the fire. He was not inside the house at the time of the attack.
Prosecution, Joseph Allman told the court that in June 2019 agents raided an apartment on Hope Hey Lane in Little Hulton, believed to be Lewis Pearson’s home.
At the address, they found a black plastic bag with a homemade firearm made of a metal tube with a handle attached to it.
The gun had a trigger and a firing mechanism.
“While it was a viable weapon, when one tube had been rammed into another tube it would have rewound against the person who shot it,” Allman said.
“If it had been used, it would most likely have caused injury to the fireman.”
The court heard that the police also discovered a baseball bat, an ax and a machete inside the apartment.
“The following day the officers saw Mr. Pearson appear through the back door of Little Hulton’s address,” added Allman.
“The house was clearly inhabited since there was a Fortnite game that was still playing on the playstation. The Crown says that Mr Pearson clearly lived at the address.”
Pearson’s defense attorney, Martin Callery, told the court that his client’s case could fall into serious difficulties.
“The weapon was brought to his address and told to keep it,” said Callery.
“This is a young man who has experienced a tragedy in his family.
“In December 2017, her sisters and mother suffered an arson attack in their home where her sisters died, and a few months later, the mother failed to recover.”
“This is a young man who has seen a tragedy,” added Callery.
“He is a young man who has attempted to behave appropriately and has sought to obtain qualifications.
“He tried to find work and tried to distance himself from those in the area who had a bad influence on him. He is not someone who is inherently bad.”
Judge Alan Conrad QC said he had considered Pearson’s mitigation, but was unable to conclude exceptional circumstances.
“Parliament reflected society’s concern about the sheer number of illegal firearms by imposing a minimal penalty,” he said.
“There are disturbing characteristics in this case, even if you were only the person who stored the gun, the person who brought it to you was killed later on the same day.
“I have considered personal mitigation, but in the circumstances I do not conclude this amounts to exceptional circumstances to justify the fact that the court deviates from the minimum penalty in this case.”
GMP Salford Division Superintendent Andrew Sidebotham said: “Today’s verdict demonstrates the hard work we do daily to try to ensure that the streets of our communities are free from firearms and weapons that could potentially cause significant damage. .
“I emphasize that possession of such weapons is not acceptable and we will not stop our search for those who think differently as they continue to operate.
“As part of our ongoing Naseby operation, the Greater Manchester police continue to work hard with the support of our partners and the public to ensure that Salford is a safe place to live and work and while we understand the level of concern due. at recent events in the area, we are continuing to demonstrate our commitment to make sure we address it.
“We continue to appeal for public information and I emphasize the importance that the public contacts the police with all the details it can have and I understand that it will be treated in the strictest confidence.
“Details can always be transmitted anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Our constant work with the public will ultimately ensure that Salford is made the place where we all wish it was.”
Zak Bolland was convicted of four murder charges and three for attempted murder following the Walkden fire trial. He was sentenced to a minimum sentence of 40 years.
David Worrall was sentenced to a 37-year sentence after being convicted of four murders and three counts of attempted serious physical harm with intent.
He was freed from three charges of attempted murder.
Bolland’s then fiancée Courtney Brierley was jailed for 21 years after being found guilty of four counts of manslaughter.
She was freed from four murder charges.