Monday 19 March 2018

'She was a typical young child, happy-go-lucky' - angelic face of toddler killed with family in horror Derrylin blaze

Victoria Leonard

The first heartbreaking pictures have emerged of a toddler who is understood to have died in Tuesday's ferocious house fire in Derrylin.

Yesterday, police confirmed that they had found the body of a young child at the scene, bringing the death toll from the tragedy to four.

While police have not yet confirmed the names of those who died, the landlord of the house, Tommy Fee (57), identified the tenants as Edward Gossett (16), his sister Diane Gossett (19), their mother Crystal Gossett, and Diane's young daughter, who he believes was aged under two.

Mr Fee said that another man, who he named as Sam Quinn, also lived at the property.

Poignant pictures show proud uncle Edward Gossett cradling his young niece on a sunny summer's day last June.

In one photo, the tiny infant is captured squirming and laughing in his embrace.

Another shows the adorable brown-eyed youngster, dressed in a fluffy pink teddy fleece, staring intently at the camera.

Again, her uncle is just visible in the background, extending a protective arm to cradle the child.

The idyllic country scene is a world away from the horror which visited the family's home on the rural Molly Road earlier this week.

A large blue forensic screen now shields the remains of the isolated bungalow from view.

Detectives from the PSNI's Serious Crime branch are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal early-morning fire. A 27-year-old man who was arrested by police at the scene and had been under police guard in hospital was moved to police custody for questioning yesterday.

Speaking two days after the blaze occurred, Detective Inspector Peter McKenna said: "It is with great sadness that I can now confirm that a fourth body has been found within the crime scene and that it appears to be the body of a young child.

"Post mortem examinations will take place in order to positively identify the victims involved in this appalling incident.

"I believe the fire was started deliberately and we are working hard to progress the investigation into this very complex crime scene.

"There is significant structural damage caused by the ferocious fire and the scene examination is further compounded by the severe weather."

Mr Fee, who previously told how he and other neighbours had attempted to save those inside the house by breaking down a door and window with a sledgehammer, yesterday said that his "worst fears have been confirmed" with the discovery of the child's body.

"It's just what we feared from the start, that no-one was left alive in the house," he said.

"It's terrible that the wee girl has perished as well.

"This is the news that I had been dreading.

"It seems to confirm the fears of local people that three generations of the same family have been wiped out.

"I had been hoping that the child hadn't been in the house.

"The last time I saw the wee girl she was just trying to balance herself and was falling over.

"She was a typical young child, happy-go-lucky."

Mr Fee said that the family originally came from Doncaster in the north of England, and had moved to Tralee in Co Kerry, before renting his house in Derrylin. It is understood that the family had lived in the Tralee area for around three years.

However, despite moving to the Derrylin area around a year and a half ago, local people say the victims were not well-known in the area, and had no family there.

Mr Fee told the Belfast Telegraph that the man who identified himself as Sam Quinn had contacted him via email after viewing the Co Fermanagh property online. "Most of the contact I had with the family was via email, even after they came here," he revealed.

"I never saw any visitors to the house, except the health visitor for the child and deliveries from the supermarket.

"I don't believe that any of them worked, I only got the deposit paid upfront and the rest of it came in the form of housing benefit.

"I do recall Edward telling me that his father had moved to Scotland after he split from his mother, and was working in engineering. There was no mention of any other family."

Mr Fee said he couldn't stop thinking about the scenes he witnessed as the family's rented home, situated just a minute away from his own house, went up in flames.

"It's still going through my head - forensics have taken over the whole place,"he revealed.

"I drive past the scene every day and it makes me think of the tragedy. I think it's better to try and carry on as normal, and work keeps my mind off it.

"My whole family is very traumatised to think of an innocent child being burned.

"If I kept thinking about it, I would drive myself crazy."

Police are appealing for anyone who knew or has information about the residents of 57 Molly Road, or who was in the area between midnight on Monday through to 7.20am on Tuesday, to contact detectives in Enniskillen on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Belfast Telegraph

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