Father cleared of baby fire death.
A father has been cleared of murdering his baby daughter by setting fire to the family home in Shetland after a row with his wife.
A jury at the High Court in Aberdeen took two hours to decide that the case against 33-year-old William Middleton was not proven.
His nine-month-old daughter Annalise died in the fire in September last year in the village of Brae.
Charges that he tried to murder two other children were also not proven.
On leaving court, Mr Middleton said: "I am very relieved that it's all over. That's all I have to say."
In a statement his estranged wife Kareen Middleton said she believed justice had not been done.
She said: "The fire investigators explained how there were two fires deliberately set in our house. One of those fires took my daughter's life.
"I was not at the house when this happened. For that I will never forgive myself."
The trial heard how Mr Middleton and his wife had been drinking with a 14-year-old niece and two of her friends on the night of the fire.
The jury was told a row had broken out after Mrs Middleton overhead her husband telling one of the girls: "I wish I'd met you before I met my wife."
She stormed out, and Mr Middleton said he later went to bed.
He claimed he was woken by an alarm and emerged from his bedroom to find the house full of smoke.
He led two older children to safety, but said the smoke was too thick for him to reach the baby's room.
Firefighters arrived to find a fire burning in the hall and smoke billowing from the windows.
Using breathing apparatus they carried Annalise from the building but were too late to save her life.
Mr Middleton, who was found in a downstairs room, was seriously ill when he was taken to hospital.
A fire investigator told the trial it was "almost certain" fires had been started deliberately in the hall and a downstairs bedroom.
But Defence QC Jack Davidson cast doubt on that evidence, and said there was no forensic evidence to suggest his client had caused the fire.
He said the jury was being asked to believe Mr Middleton had "morphed" from a family man to a "fiend" in a matter of hours.
Local councillor Alastair Cooper said the baby's death had devastated the community.
"We couldn't believe that such a thing could happen to a young baby. We are trying to get the community back together, to heal the pain," he said.
"Hopefully the community will get back together and learn to deal with it. We'll never forget, but we'll learn to deal it."
A charge that William Middleton sexually assaulted a woman at various dates at another address was also found not proven.
In a statement Northern Constabulary said: "Officers carried out a full and thorough investigation into the death of Annalise Middleton.
"It was a committed and professional investigation by a team who explored all possible lines of enquiry.
"This is a particularly tragic case given the age of the child and our thoughts are clearly with Annalise's family." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/7954920.stm