Thursday 29 September 2016

Woman who started fire which killed pensioner walks free

Deborah McAleese

Published 18/06/2016 | 02:30

Karen Hasson
Karen Hasson

The family of Samuel Carson (91) wept as the woman who killed him in a house fire walked free from court.

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Karen Hasson, who started a fire that killed her elderly neighbour, was yesterday spared jail by a judge who said she would be burdened by the guilt for the rest of her life.

Hasson (59), of Thorndale Park, Carryduff, admitted the manslaughter of her elderly neighbour Carson, who died in his home almost two years ago.

She had started a fire in the garage of her home which ignited the oil tank after she had a row with her husband over furniture. Burning oil then spread to the house next door and set Mr Carson's bungalow on fire, killing him.

Yesterday, Hasson was sentenced to 100 hours' community service and two years on probation at Downpatrick Crown Court.

Devastated

The sentencing judge said that human life can't be restored by a prison sentence.

Mr Carson's devastated family said they were disappointed by the sentence imposed by the court.

The widowed grandfather had been trying to escape from his house when he was overcome by smoke. He died as a result of smoke inhalation.

The court heard that on September 1, 2014, Hasson had been living at the marital home with her husband Brian when she started the fire. Their relationship at the time was strained.

Mr Hasson was asleep in bed when he was woken by his wife calling out for him.

He saw her at the side of the garage with a hose trying to extinguish flames. Mr Hasson grabbed the hose but there was not enough pressure to put out the blaze.

Yesterday Judge Piers Grant said he accepted that Hasson had not intended to harm anyone. He said her relationship with her husband at the time had been strained and she had been "seriously troubled".

The judge said she had started the fire with the intention of taking her own life or as a cry for help.

Hasson sat shaking in the dock with her head bowed as the judge told her: "You could not have contemplated these chain of events."

"You will have to carry the burden of the consequences of your actions for the rest of your life. That will be a heavy burden for you to carry."

In a victim impact report to the court, Mr Carson's daughter described her father as a "very good and decent man".

Irish Independent

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