Monday 19 February 2018

Family targeted by mistake, say gardai

A family portrait of Richard
Connolly with his daughter Mari
(5), who died in the blaze at his
Boyle home
A family portrait of Richard Connolly with his daughter Mari (5), who died in the blaze at his Boyle home
Mari's mother, Teresa Kane is comforted at the scene of the tragedy

Tom Brady Security Editor

GARDAI believe an arson attack, which killed a five-year-old girl, was connected to an earlier incident, and she became mistakenly caught up in the fallout.

Little Mari Connolly perished in the blaze, which ravaged her home at Termon Road in Boyle, Co Roscommon, in the early hours of Monday.

Her father, Richard suffered back injuries while trying to save his three daughters, Mari, Naomi and Lauren.

Officers made clear last night that the earlier incident did not involve Richard Connolly or any member of his family and that they were mistakenly targeted by the attacker.

Forensic tests on the house disclosed yesterday that the blaze had been started maliciously at the rear of the premises.

The flames spread so quickly and intensely that there was no trace left of the type of accelerant used by the arsonist.

Officers yesterday carried out a series of house searches in Sligo and subsequently arrested a 33-year-old suspect in one of them.

The man is understood to be well known to local gardai in Sligo.

He was taken to Boyle garda station for questioning about the arson attack and was being held last night under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

This allows gardai to hold him without charge, allowing for a rest period overnight, until late this evening.

Investigators suspect that the arson was motivated by a recent incident involving two other people.

It is believed that a woman sustained injuries in a separate assault, that is also thought to be linked to the incident.

Since early on in the investigation, officers had been working on the basis that the fire had been started maliciously but were awaiting the outcome of the detailed forensic examination of the house by experts from the Garda Technical Bureau, before concluding that it was arson.

The examination also ruled out the possibility of an electrical fault, a lit candle, or other accidental causes for the blaze.

Irish Independent

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