Tearful girl tells judge of 'hero' father and sister killed in burglar's fire

A 13-year-old girl has sobbed in court as she told a judge about her father and younger sister who died in a fire started by a burglar trying to destroy evidence of a break-in across the street.

In a move thought to be the first of its kind, Mia Broadhead described her father Andrew Broadhead as "the world's greatest superhero" and her sister Kiera as "the world's brightest star" as she read out a statement at Leeds Crown Court.

Mia addressed the court before Daniel Jones, 29, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Broadhead and his eight-year-old daughter last month.

The teenager stood in the witness box and addressed the packed Courtroom One, telling the judge about her struggles to cope following the fire in October 2016, when she was 12, which she escaped with her mother.

But when she began to describe her father and sister she began to cry, wiping away tears and pushing her hair off her face as she continued to read out her words.

She told the court: "My daddy was the world's greatest superhero and he was my hero. I am thankful for his happiness, kindness and his love for everyone - the way he was positive and how he always lifted everybody's spirits."

Mia said: "It is too hard to say goodbye to my dad so I say 'if I don't see you through the week, I'll see you in my dreams. I love you daddy'."

She said of Kiera: "My sissy was the world's brightest star and nobody will dull her sparkle. I am thankful for the eight years we had with her - for her kindness, her funniness, her caring for one another and her humour. She didn't deserve this, neither of them did."

After she had finished reading out her statement, Mia returned to the public gallery where she was hugged by her mother, Sara Broadhead, who also read out a personal impact statement to the judge.

Jones, who sat in the dock wearing a light grey suit and was surrounded by prison officers, stared straight forward as the statements were read. He also showed no emotion as the judge, Mr Justice Morris, read out his sentence.

The judge had to give special permission for Mia even to be in the courtroom, as the usual age limit is 14 in the Crown Court.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said outside court: " As far as I know it's the first time that a 13-year-old has had enough courage to come and give a victim personal statement in court. It was very brave and anyone who was there saw how much it affected her and, also, quite how brave she was."

Mr and Mrs Broadhead and their two daughters were asleep in their home in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in the early hours of October 19 last year when Jones poured petrol through letterbox and set it alight.

Mrs Broadhead and Mia managed to escape, but Mr Broadhead, 42, and Kiera were overcome by smoke and fire and were later pronounced dead at the scene in Ash Crescent, Stanley.

The jury heard how debt-ridden father-of-two Jones, of Spawd Bone Lane, Knottingley, was worried that CCTV footage from the home would reveal how he had stolen a safe containing £850 and drugs from a friend's house opposite three days earlier.

Detectives later found the camera was not even working. Jones believed the family were on holiday but the Broadheads had returned hours earlier from a fortnight abroad.

In October, a jury found him not guilty of two counts of murder but guilty of two counts of manslaughter.

The judge said of Mrs Broadhead and Mia's statement in court: "Even having heard this eloquent testimony of their grief, it is hard for anyone to imagine the horror of the catastrophic events that night - what Andrew and Kiera must have endured and the pain and anguish that Sara and Mia still have to endure."

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Bryar said: "It is difficult to know where to start to describe the sheer madness and callousness of Jones's actions."

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