Thursday 19 October 2017

Gran threw milk over girl (11) to douse flames after fire attack

Ann Joyce (centre) sits outside her Longford town home, which was petrol bombed
Ann Joyce (centre) sits outside her Longford town home, which was petrol bombed

Eoghan MacConnell and Eimear Ni Bhraonain

A GANG of men threw petrol bombs into a family home before roaring: "You're all going to burn to death."

Michaela Maughan's grandmother, Julie Ward, tried to save the 11-year-old by throwing milk over her to douse the flames after the youngster caught fire.

Michaela was in a stable condition in Crumlin Children's Hospital, Dublin, last night after she received serious burns in the attack.

Three men in their 20s have been arrested for questioning in relation to the attack. One was arrested a short distance from the scene, while another was arrested in Longford at noon yesterday.

Thugs wielding slash hooks kicked in the front door of Michaela's grand-aunt Ann Joyce's house, in which there were five people inside, in Pauric Colum Heights in Longford town just before midnight on Thursday and hurled firebombs into the kitchen.

The four men -- two of whom were masked -- also smashed windows.

Michaela, from Clondalkin in Dublin, sustained burns to her face, chest and hands in the attack.

Her mother, Mary-Ann Maughan, was too upset to talk last night but asked for people to "please pray" for her little girl.

Mrs Joyce had pleaded with the assailants not to torch her home moments before the petrol bombs were thrown.

"The front door was broke in on top of us. I roared at them to go away -- there's no one here but me and small children. After that they threw in a petrol bomb," she said.

Mrs Joyce said her daughter had seen them in the garden and "begged them not to do it".

Her sister, Julie Ward, had been visiting from Clondalkin with her granddaughter.

Tearful

"My granddaughter was standing in the middle of the floor and a fella shouted in, 'we got ye now'. He just threw in a petrol bomb and she got the whole force of it. My grandchild is lying in Crumlin hospital critically ill over all this," said Ms Ward.

"She's badly burnt, her arms, her chest, her face, everything. I never seen anything like it in my life. That child was in flames and I tried to quench her. All I could get was a drum of milk to throw on top of her."

A tearful Ms Ward couldn't explain why the attack had occurred.

Only two of the men wore masks but the family said they couldn't identify the attackers.

Michaela's uncle, John Joyce, arrived at the house minutes after the attack. "I thought there was someone dead. Thank God there was no one dead."

His brother, who had been outside smoking, saw the four men approach the house. He ran to the rear of the house to raise the alarm but by that stage, the men had kicked in the front door.

"When they ran to the hall the front door was attacked with a slash hook and kicked in. Two fellas walked into the house with petrol bombs and said, 'here take that, yer all going to burn to death'."

The young girl is very lucky to be alive, he added, "they came to murder and just thank God they didn't get their wish".

When asked if there would be any ramifications he replied, "no, because we don't even know why this happened. The law is there to handle this". Mr Joyce said his mother's Christmas savings, pictures of her late husband and all of her possessions were destroyed by the blaze. The family's pet terrier also died in the fire.

Gardai said they were treating the incident as "extremely serious". Garda sources believe it is linked to an ongoing feud but that the injured parties were "not or never have been involved in any feud".

Irish Independent

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