A 10-year-old girl who died in a house fire suspected to have been started by her own father to kill them both sent a text to her grandmother before her death.
“Help, I’m scared”, an inquest heard the girl’s text read.
Paige Bolton sent the desperate message before her father Garry Bolton locked the both of them in the bathroom as their home was engulfed by flames.
Following an inquest into their deaths in Hull, East Yorkshire, the coroner ruled the blaze on January 25, 2020, “was in all probability deliberately started” by Mr Bolton.
The hearing was told the 47-year-old had locked the front door, disabled the alarms and blocked the hallway with obstacles before barricading himself and his daughter inside.
Firefighters managed to smash their way into the bathroom and found the two of them in the tub. Mr Bolton was declared dead at the scene.
They carried Paige out in her pyjamas but despite battling for 45 minutes to revive her she could not be saved and later died in hospital.
Coroner Ian Sprate recorded a narrative conclusion that the father and daughter died from carbon monoxide poisoning from “a smouldering fire started in the main bedroom probably deliberately that morning”.
“I conclude on the balance of probabilities that the fire was in all probability deliberately started by Garry Bolton,” he added.
“There are very few words I can say that will ease the pain and anguish of what was a totally tragic event.”
The inquest heard Paige’s grandmother Patricia Bolton woke that morning to text messages from the youngster saying, “help, help, I’m scared” and: “Daddy is scaring me. Why can’t you help me?”
Mr Bolton was also said to have messaged Paige’s mum Cherie Rangeley, 45, saying he hoped she would die in a car crash.
Fire service investigator Richard Gibson earlier told the inquest: “In my opinion the fire was started deliberately. It was deliberately set.”
Paige’s death was also the second tragedy to hit the family, following the death of her twin brother Ethan who died at the age of just six months in 2009.
The hearing was told Mr Bolton’s mental health deteriorated while he suffered from anxiety, low self-esteem, and paranoia, HullLive reports.
He was said to have been mocked over his appearance for years and cruelly nicknamed “Sloth” from The Goonies because of the shape of his head.
The bullying was so bad that he moved Paige from her school after she was called “the retard’s daughter”, it was claimed.
Mr Bolton’s sister Tracey Ann Bolton told the inquest: “Garry has been bullied all his life and was an easy target because he would not stand up for himself.”
She added: “He was a loving and devoted father to Paige who he absolutely adored, and he always put her first.
“He was thoughtful and caring. He was a gentle giant with a passive nature. He cared for his family but never really got over the death of Ethan.”
After the hearing, Ms Rangeley said: “As far as I am concerned, he murdered my little girl.”
She added: “We were hoping for an unlawful killing and suicide verdict.”