Date: 9 May 2005
Vikki Preston and Rhona Schofield were killed in an arson attack at a house in King Street, Higher Broughton on 10 May 2005.
The fire was started deliberately on the ground floor of the terraced house where they were asleep upstairs.
Vikki Preston and Rhona Schofield had had an argument with some other people in the house earlier in the evening. Later the other parties in the argument left and Vikki Preston and Rhona Schofield went to sleep. Later on in the morning between 3.40am and 4.10am two fires were started in two separate rooms on the ground floor. The furniture in each room had been set on fire. The fire brigade were called out at 4.09am after neighbours heard the windows if the house blow out.
The fire became intense and Vikki Preston and Rhona Schofield died from the smoke inhalation after becoming trapped in their rooms.
Vikki Preston and Rhona Schofield had only been in the house for a few days.
Police said that they had three suspects but that no one was charged. One of the people, a woman, that had been living in the property but left the day before was heard to have previously stated that they had wanted to kill the girls. At the inquest it was heard that she was six months pregnant and had moved out of the house after a row with her boyfriend after Vikki Preston was said to have told the woman's boyfriend that he wasn't the father of the woman's child. It was also heard that Vikki Preston had told the woman that she had slept with her boyfriend. They boyfriend was in custody at the time of the fire for breaching bail conditions. It was heard that during the argument she had asked everyone to leave the house as it was her that had been paying the rent, but that when they refused she had gone back to her mother's house nearby. When the woman had got back to her mother's house, a family friend there said that she was going mad, saying she was going kill them and that she was going to get someone to batter them because Vikki Preston said she had slept with her boyfriend. The family friend said that they sat up talking about it until about 4.30am.
A 62-year-old man was also arrested. He had lived locally. The police also investigated a third man.
The fires were started in the front lounge and the rear lounge. In the rear lounge a sofa had been set on fire and in the front lounge an armchair had been set on fire. The forensic experts said that they had ruled out all other possible causes such as an electrical fault or a smouldering cigarette.
The fire experts said that once the fire had reached the stairs that there would have been no chance of getting out and that the lack of oxygen would have meant they would have become unconscious very quickly.