Mia Broadhead fought back tears as she told a courtroom her dad was “the world’s greatest superhero” and nobody could dull her sister’s sparkle.
The 13-year-old was overcome with emotion as she read aloud a statement in tribute to her father 42-year-old Andrew and younger sister eight-year-old Kiera, hours before their killer was jailed for manslaughter.
Daniel Jones started a blaze at their family home - number 55 Ash Crescent, Stanley - on October 19 last year. He lit the fatal fire just to cover his own tracks, hoping the flames would destroy CCTV of himself committing a burglary at a nearby house just days before. Instead he killed a dad and his daughter, and left a family devastated.
Mia, who took the brave step of going to the witness stand to read her statement in person, said: “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. 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.”
Describing the emotional trauma she has suffered since the tragedy, she said: “Since the fire, I have suffered from nightmares and for a long while I couldn’t sleep upstairs because I was so afraid that it would happen again. Every time I tried to sleep upstairs it all came back to me. I started to panic and could hear the sounds of the fire, the smell, the smoke and not being able to breathe.”
After her speech, Mia, who had been given special permission to be in the courtroom at Leeds Crown Court, returned to the public gallery where her mother Sara was waiting with arms wide open. The pair had managed to escape the fire with the help of neighbours.
Mrs Broadhead also read her statement to the court, saying: “In her eight short years, Kiera lived life to the full. She never took anything for granted, was always thankful but most of all she loved with a huge heart. This world is going to be a dull place without her smile and laughter. I know she will live on in everyone’s hearts and memories.
“I have had to say goodbye to my amazing husband, the man who gave me 18 wonderful years of his life and blessed me with two beautiful girls.”
After seeing Jones sentenced to 20 years in prison, Mr Broadhead’s parents Alan and Jean said in an emotional statement: “We will never be the same following the loss of our son and granddaughter. Our family is like a jigsaw with two pieces of the puzzle missing; it just won’t go back together.
“Andy was very loving and so was Kiera who was such a lovely girl. They were a wonderful son and granddaughter who were so close to us and to each other. Andy had a wicked sense of humour and was one of those people who would walk into a room and get respect right away as he just had that way about him.
“He was brilliant with his hands and when he was at work, was always the one that would sort the job no one else could do. He was very close to his brother Scott and Scott’s children and a really thoughtful son who looked after his parents.
“He used to come round all the time and stick his head around the door, and often caught up with his dad and brother for a pint. What has taken place will live with us every day and no prison sentence will ever make up for what has been done to us. Part of our hearts are gone forever.”
Mrs Broadhead described her husband as an “amazing dad”.
“He was one of those people who would do anything for anyone and who no one had a bad word for”, she said. “I know his colleagues at work adored him and loved his sense of humour.
“Kiera was just one of a kind, really vibrant and loving and so independent. She was very bright and so good with her schoolwork and used to help out the other children when she finished first. She also loved helping her dad in the garage and was a real tomboy.
“It’s impossible to describe what the loss of my husband Andy and my daughter Kiera has done to our family. We feel it each and every day.”
Days after the blaze, which took hold in the early hours of the morning, Mia left a letter to her father and sister among rows of floral tributes and loving messages placed outside their home.
It read: “To daddy and sissy Kiera, I love you to the moon and much more. I miss you like there’s none of me left.”
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, a shocked community pulled together to support the family, who had only returned home from a holiday in Spain hours before the blaze was started.
Within just 24 hours, more than £5,200 was raised to help them.