Hundreds of mourners paid their final respects yesterday to three children who died in an arson attack on their home.

Samantha, Patricia and Marcus Carter were laid to rest following an emotional service at St Edward the Confessor Church, in Leek, Staffordshire, just two miles from their home in Cheddleton where they were killed in an explosion on March 9.

Their distraught mother Amanda was inconsolable as s he followed the three specially-designed coffins into the church, just two days after burying her partner Roderick Hine, aged 44, who also died in the blast.

The coffin of 16-year-old Samantha, known as Sammy, was pink and bore the logo of a Playboy bunny, while the coffin of ten-year-old Patricia, known as Trisha, was decorated with pictures of a cartoon princess.

The tiny coffin of seven-year-old Marcus, or Marcy, was emblazoned with images of the Crazy Frog.

Mourners lined the streets and shops nearby closed as a mark of respect.

Ms Carter, aged 35, was supported by relatives throughout the half-hour service led by the Reverend Roger Woods, who knew the children at school.

He said prayers for the children's immediate family and friends, mentioning by name their mother, father Mark and grandfather Fred.

He told the congregation how much the children's deaths had rocked the whole community.

"Each of their lives have been cut short, too short, and yet much has been crammed into these few years to make them the young people that they were, precious to their family but loved and appreciated by many.

"They were, each in their own way, full of life with a capital L."

He said of Sammy: "She had left school last summer and had got a job at Thornton's the chocolate shop, in the Market Place here in Leek.

"She really loved this job because it meant meeting lots of people which she loved to do.

"She was a typical teenager in many ways, bubbly, outgoing, loved clothes, liked going to the gym. She loved being a big sister to Patricia."

Of Trisha, a pupil of Churnet View Middle School, Mr Woods said: "She was a real girly-girly who loved putting make-up on or having her hair done by her big sister.

"She loved music, both pop and classical, used to go to bed listening and falling asleep to music."

Mr Woods also shared with the congregation thoughts about Marcy's love for football.

He attended Beresford Memorial School.

"He was always out playing football, that was often his first request when he got home from school, "Mum, can I go and play out?"

Mr Woods continued: "This is a human tragedy which is almost unimaginable except that we know it is real.

"This is a human tragedy that we who are parents can hardly bear to think about.

"It is the parents' ultimate nightmare to lose any child at whatever age, but yet here we have three young lives together cut short, almost before they've begun."

He said the death of the three children, along with their stepfather, had touched so many people's hearts.

"And because they span different ages and different places then this seems to have touched a greater number of people in a more personal way.

"Some may have known one of the children better, perhaps through school or because they have children of a similar age. Our hearts go out to those who knew them all the best -their immediate family and close friends."

Two hymns were sung by the congregation, the first All Things Bright And Beautiful, and the second One More Step Along The World I Go.

The coffins were taken out of the church to the music of James Blunt's You're Beautiful, which played into the street outside.