Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Child witness tells of fatal fire

Annalise Middleton
The court was told the accused man tried to reach his baby daughter

A man accused of murdering his baby daughter in a house fire told another child to flee the house, a court heard.

The six-year-old witness, who cannot be named, said William Middleton told her and a younger boy to "save yourselves".

She also told the High Court in Aberdeen she saw him trying to get upstairs to reach his nine-month-old daughter Annalise.

Mr Middleton denies murdering Annalise and trying to murder two other children at the house at Brae in Shetland.

The child, giving evidence by videolink, said she began screaming after hearing an alarm go off, but did not notice smoke.

She said she noticed that the accused's door was a "wee bit hot".

She told the court he opened the door and said "save yourselves". She and the boy then left the house.

'All drinking'

The prosecutor asked where Mr Middleton was when she and the boy got of the house.

"He was still in the house trying to get upstairs to Annalise," she said.

The court later heard that an argument broke out at the house on the night of the fire when three teenage girls visited Middleton and his wife.

During the course of the night they were all drinking, the court heard.

A 14-year-old girl told the court Mr Middleton had flirted with her teenage friend.

The girl said his wife Kereen had overheard him tell the girl "I wish I met you before my wife".

She said Kereen Middleton then left the house in tears.

Asked what happened next, she replied: "Billy came in and said it was all my fault if she went off with another bloke.

"He said 'whatever happens tonight' was my fault. He was really angry, he was kind of raising his voice when he said it to me."

Mr Middleton denies murdering his daughter and trying to murder two other children on 20 September last year.

He is also accused of sexual assault against a woman on various dates at another address and has lodged a special defence of consent.

The trial continues.

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