Alleged Miscarriages of Justice > Billy Middleton and the death of his daughter in a house fire at Brae, Shetland Isles.

Introduction to the Billy Middleton case

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This is William (Billy) Alexander Middleton who was cleared of murdering his baby daughter by setting fire to his home at Brae, Shetland Isles in September 2008. Middleton was also cleared of attempted murder in respect of two other children, namely, his son and step daughter and of sexual assault on his wife.   The trial was held at the High Court in Aberdeen in March 2009.

This house fire was somewhat unique in that two separate fires were started in the family home almost simultaneously.  Three independent fire investigators came to the same conclusion that the fires were started deliberately.  Middleton was alone in the house with the three children asleep upstairs when the fires started.  The two elder children raised the alarm but were unable to extract the baby from her cot.  They alerted Middleton who put them outside before locking both external doors.  He was later discovered by firemen lying in the foetal position in his bed in a downstairs bedroom whilst baby Annalise died from smoke inhalation in her upstairs bedroom.

Middleton refers to himself as a 'wrongly accused person' and later went on to form the Wrongly Accused Person Organisation which he runs from his parents home in Lerwick.  His co Director in the organisation is author and recent PHD student, Dr Sandra Lean from Edinburgh.

Billy Middleton with Annalise before her death.

Billy Middleton writes:

"On the 20th September 2008 a fire broke out in my home while I lay in bed sleeping. After I woke with the fire alarm, I left my bedroom to find the hallway full of dark smoke and could hear my eldest 2 children screaming upstairs. I could see no flames but instantly knew from the considerable amount of smoke that urgent evacuation was the only appropriate action. When I reached the bottom of the stairs I could barely make out my son and daughter standing at the top, huddled together in terror. I shouted to them “You have to get out now!” but only my elder daughter started to come down, my son was stiff with fear and wouldn’t move so I hurried up the stairs until I could reach him. By the time I’d grabbed him and made my way back down my daughter was standing at the outside door, I opened it and she went out beckoning her brother but he wouldn’t slip me, his arms clinging around my neck for all he was worth.

After prising him free and putting him on the path outside I told them both I had to go back for my 9 month old daughter Annalise and went back in closing the door to keep air out. Unfortunately my son was desperate to stay with me and followed me in so I had to put him out again and shouted ‘You have to go, I’ll be back in a minute’, but again he came in. So I put him outside a final time and locked the door so he couldn’t come in again.

Although only a short time had passed, the level of smoke was now significantly worse. I could barely see at all and my eyes were beginning to sting badly. Each breath caught my throat as I tried to climb the stairs to reach Annalise. But the smoke seemed to be funnelling up the stairway and by the time I reached what must have been a point near the top, breathing was impossible and due to the thick smoke and the effect it had on my eyes I could see absolutely nothing. Despite acting on instinct I knew I had to go back for clean air and try again, I knew if I went on I wouldn’t make it. By this time the smoke I had inhaled had obviously begun to affect me mentally as I have no clear recollection of descending the stairs.I do have a vague memory after of picking myself up trying to move forward but bumped into a wall. I couldn’t understand why there was a wall there; I couldn’t keep my eyes open at all as they felt like the extreme welders flash I’d suffered a few months prior. It was as if I was lost, completely disorientated and I began to panic, terror had set in I had no idea where I was, how to get to air or how to get my baby. I was later found back in my bedroom on the bed by firemen but have no memory vague or otherwise how I got there, all I do know is I wasn’t leaving that house without my baby!

Sadly by the time the firemen arrived and recovered Annalise, and despite the very best efforts of the paramedics she could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene. Now I live with a feeling of failure for not being able to reach her, the time she needed me most I let her down by not managing and I have lived with that pain every day since and doubt that will ever stop. She was my precious angel, I failed and now no matter how hard each day I wish it, I can’t ever have my baby back."

In relation to his website Middleton writes...

At the time I began writing this website, I had recently been acquitted of 1 charge of indecent assault, 1 charge of murder and 2 charges of attempted murder. A case which obviously attracted significant media interest and one which should never have passed the first hurdle. The reasons as to how I can say this will become clearer as the site develops however at the time of writing there are legal processes underway which limit exactly which details I can openly reveal. Since the individuals and departments responsible deserve to be investigated fairly without prejudice (a privilege I was never afforded), there are obviously restrictions on what actions or details I can be specific about however I will endeavour to paint as full a picture as possible in the meantime with a view to highlighting factors which can cause innocent people to be vilified and become victims of the justice system intended to protect us all.


--- Quote from: Billy Middleton ---My baby daughter died in house fire and I got the blame - the story of William Middleton.

William Middleton tells me his tragic experiences with wrongful conviction.

Links to video parts 1 and 2

I am William Middleton. In 2008 I was accused of murdering my baby daughter and attempted murder of my son and step daughter.

After the fire, I returned home from hospital to my broken family in Shetland. One Saturday morning I was taken to the police station and arrested. They thought I started the fire. It was as if someone reached in and took the life out of me.

That was when I started to find out how rotten and corrupt the whole justice system is. Everything that they did was designed to break me. They took me into a cell where they made me strip completely naked. I still do not understand why. It was degrading and humiliating. When they questioned me later I thought that all I had to do was tell the truth and everything would be alright.

They were aggressive and relentless, whenever I thought it was over, they would start all over again. 'You do realise we are doing our job,' they said, 'if you could think of anything else that could help us then we can maybe get through this quicker.'

Then I would be taken back to the very first question: 'Why did you kill Annalise?' 'This is Scotland,' they told me, 'We don't have to provide a solicitor for six hours.'

The officers interrogated me for all of six hours before putting me in a cell. My son's statement confirmed everything that I had been saying despite the fact that he was only three at the time. The prosecution told my legal team that if they wanted to use it, they would have to call him in court.

My six-year-old daughter was interviewed on her own, without any breaks, or an adult with her. The interview was not recorded. Every time she told them what happened, they would spend hours on what they called ‘bringing her back to the truth.’

They were trying to catch the children on their own in their schools. My 14-year-old niece had three interviews each lasting seven hours. She described the officer as a bully and putting words into her mouth. She has been badly affected by it, despite that she was denied counselling. She started self harming. She has since been treated in a psychological unit because she has tried to commit suicide six times.

And it’s all because of an ashtray...

My niece (2) was staying over that night with two friends. They asked if I could get them some drink. I was not keen on the idea, but I agreed to get them two small bottles of WKD to share. Everybody was having a good time, just group of girls having girly chats. One of them said that she did not think that boys found her attractive so we all kept reassuring her and I made a silly comment that 'I would be'. I just meant to give her some confidence but my wife got upset about it and left the house to calm down. My niece (2) went after her. Before going to bed I texted my wife saying 'please just come back, I love you'.

The next thing I knew I woke up with the fire alarm going off. I could hear the children screaming. I could see smoke coming through the gap in the door from the hallway. I opened the door and could feel the heat and saw thick dark smoke. I went to the bottom of the stairs, looked up and could just make out Christina and James standing there. I shouted, 'you've got to get out!' Christina came down but James was scared stiff. I went up, grabbed him and got him outside. I said, 'I'm going back in to get Annalise'. Going back inside, I closed the door to keep James out. By now the smoke was much worse but I had to go up the stairs again. I think I made it to the top, but I could not breathe. My eyes were stinging and I was choking... I knew I was not going to make it. The last thing I remember is trying to pick myself up after falling down the stairs. Then I woke up in the hospital.

One officer made herself look as if she would be there to support us, but we found out that she, the most senior officer on the night, was the one who took Annalise and dumped her into a cell. My dead baby was just dumped in a dirty cell with graffiti.

At one point the social workers told my wife that if she continued to support me they would put James and Christina on the Child Protection List. All designed to turn my own wife against me, and make her believe that I had done it.

They later offered to drop the charges and replace them all with one charge of Culpable homicide (1) with a recommended six year sentence. I refused, and they added a charge of sexual abuse of my wife. It was proven in court that this was not even physically possible, but she had still been led to believe that I had done it.

It is easy to accuse somebody of anything, but it is very difficult to prove innocence. I was eventually acquitted, and after I was released from court I set up a website called “Wrongly Accused Person” to try to help people who were going through the same as I did. There has never been a day that I felt I have done enough. As long as I believe that somebody is innocent, I won't give up because I know how it is to be in that cell knowing that you haven't done it.

Links to video parts 1 and 2

Link to YouTube
--- End quote ---

Strange how two fires caught hold at exactly the same time in such a tiny house and yet Middleton was supposed to sleep through it.  If it had been left to him the other two kids would have perished in the smoke as well.  What sort of a fruit cake goes back to sleep in the midst of a raging fire and leaves a baby to smother in an upstairs bedroom??

There is much to be reinstated on this story since Jackie Preece threatened ProBoards and made them take down the old forum.

There is one fact which has certainly never before been publicised about Billy Middleton and the events which took place on the evening prior to the fire which claimed the life of Annalise.

On the eve of the fire (Friday 19 September 2008), a local newspaper, the Shetland Times, carried a story about a young local girl who had gone on to do well at University.  It featured a photograph of her standing proudly in her robes.  That girl was the former girlfriend of Billy Middleton prior to his relationship and marriage to Kareen Anderson. Kareen remembers a copy of the newspaper being placed on Annalise's pram on the evening prior to the blaze.

I can also share with you the fact that Kareen was due to take up a place on a Psychology course just three days after the fire which killed her daughter. I will leave you all to work out the significances for yourselves.


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