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Woman rescued from fire is cleared of arson

A WOMAN has been acquitted of setting her home alight in a blaze that left a courageous neighbour injured when he rushed inside to save her.

Sandra Barbour (34) was found not guilty of the arson at her apartment at a south Dublin women's shelter.

Hero neighbour Frank Colliton raised the alarm and braved the flames in an attempt to find Barbour, but was forced to retreat with burns to his hands.

Judge David McHugh ruled that the State had failed to provide any direct evidence that Barbour had caused the fire.

The court heard gardai had answered two emergency calls at the shelter in September 2009. The first, half an hour before the fire, was from someone threatening suicide, the court heard.

Gardai found Barbour lying on the floor of her bathroom, next to a bath full of water.

She was unresponsive but when Garda Kevin Molyneaux checked her vital signs, her pulse was strong.

When he put her into the recovery position, she awoke and started screaming. She refused to go to an ambulance and gardai left the scene.

At 4.15pm, they received another call and arrived to see smoke coming from the window, said Garda Molyneaux.


Firefighters were leaving and the accused was inside, lying on the floor being treated.

When he asked her if she could get up, she screamed "f**k off, f**k off" and attempted to bite his ankles.

Shelter employee Emily Le Prince said €2,000 worth of damage was caused in the fire.

Mr Colliton said he was outside his home across the road when he saw flames. He raised the alarm, went in and said "get the kids out" before banging on Barbour's door.

He opened a window to let the smoke out despite the "blazing" blinds but was forced to retreat by the smoke.

His hands were burned from the melting blinds and he was taken by ambulance to St James's Hospital, where he was seen by a plastic surgeon.