Gardai rescue woman (87) after arson attack on home
Published 14/12/2010 | 05:00
GARDAI rescued an 87year-old woman from her bed after an arsonist set fire to her home in the early hours of yesterday.
Officers believe that her house was targeted by mistake.
And last night they appealed for help from the public in tracking down a thug who was seen in the area at the time.
The close-knit community around Blarney Street in Cork city were left numb by what was described as an appalling act of thuggery that resulted in May O'Gorman being hospitalised.
Mrs O'Gorman was asleep in her upstairs bedroom at Murrough Lane, off Blarney Street, shortly before 4.30am.
Gardai think that petrol was poured through the letter box on the front door and then set alight.
The blaze caused substantial damage to the front of the house and the fumes were starting to spread when gardai were alerted following a 999 call.
Garda John O'Sullivan and Reserve Garda Peter Clifford, who were first to arrive there, broke down the front door and made their way upstairs through the smoke and fumes. They located Mrs O'Gorman in bed, where she was overcome with the fumes, and with the help of neighbours managed to rescue her from the house.
All three were taken to the Mercy University Hospital where they were were treated for smoke inhalation. The two gardai were later discharged but Mrs O'Gorman was detained for observation.
Inspector Gary McPolin said last night: "Garda Sullivan and Reserve Garda Clifford are both in fine fettle and will be back on night duty tonight. Mrs O'Gorman has been upset by the experience and is very anxious at the moment. She is being comforted by members of her family.
"This is a heinous crime, it is nasty and cowardly," he said. "Mrs O'Gorman has no connection with any kind of criminality and this is really horrendous for her at her age."
Insp McPolin added that gardai were following a definite line of inquiry and he appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Gardai are keen to identify a man wearing a black beanie hat, brown jacket and jeans seen in the area at the time.
"We are waiting for forensic reports but we believe some kind of accelerant was used and that ignited the hall lino, resulting in an amount of poisonous smoke," said Insp McPolin.
"Anyone who saw anything in the Blarney Street area between 4am and 4.30am or heard any unusual noise should get in touch. There are some reports of a male seen banging on the door of the house and we would also urge local businesses to check their CCTV."
Tom Coleman, of the Blarney Street Community Association, said that locals were shocked by what happened.
"The whole place has been left numb by this. May is a very popular lady in the area. Her late husband Harry was also very well known and they are a decent, respectable family.
"People are appalled by this kind of thuggery that could have left an old woman dead, it really is terrible," he said.
Mr Coleman said that the Community Association was finalising an application for CCTV to be installed at both ends of Blarney Street this week.
Local TD Bernard Allen, who lives nearby, said: "This is really very shocking and May is very lucky not to have been killed. This really is a scurrilous attack on a defenceless old woman."