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Man flees as anger grows over fatal arson attack

A YOUNG man questioned by gardai in connection with an arson attack in which a young woman and her nephew died has gone into hiding, amid fears for his safety.

Helena O'Dwyer (25) and her nephew Ryan (5) died when a petrol bomb was thrown at the house where they were staying in Mahon, Cork, on Easter Sunday morning.

Helena's father Joe (55), last night revealed that his daughter had only moved back to the family home for Easter after she had received a terrifying letter, warning that her own bungalow would be firebombed.

She had previously received a text message threatening that she would be shot.

Helena and Ryan died when they were trapped in an upstairs bedroom of the O'Dwyer family home, at Nutley Avenue in Mahon, when the house was firebombed at 3.15am.

A 22-year-old man who was questioned in connection with the fatal fire was released without charge on Monday. It is now understood that he has left the area as local anger mounts.

Helena had been physically assaulted in her own home a week before Easter. When she moved back into her parents' home, she received a text message warning that her location was known.

According to her father, it said: "There is a bullet waiting for you. We know where you are. Mahon is a small place. RIP."

He added: "She received a letter, telling her that her home was going to be petrol-bombed. She was very afraid. The gardai came over and took the letter from Helena. It was signed with the initials of a person."

Mr O'Dwyer said that on Thursday of last week, Helena moved in with them. They did not feel threatened at the time.

"But I was told this morning an individual had been seen in the area in the past couple of days. He was at the back of our house, as if he was looking for an exit route or something.


"It does upset me when the gardai have a letter in their possession of someone being threatened. I believe that if something had been done, Helena and Ryan would still be alive today. It was a serious threat."

Joe and his wife Helena Snr (49) managed to get other family members out of the blazing house, including Helena's sister Dawn (22). They also managed to make sure their grandchildren Courtney (5), Katelyn (4) and William (2) were safe.

However, Helena is understood to have run back into an upstairs bedroom in an heroic bid to save her nephew Ryan. Both were overcome by smoke and heat.

A special account for the O'Dwyer Family Appeal is to be set up in Mahon Credit Union.

Irish Independent