herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Boy (16) lucky to be alive as home gutted in latest town bomb terror

Gardai at scene of the burnt-out house in Drogheda
Gardai at scene of the burnt-out house in Drogheda

Associates of the Owen Maguire feud faction, along with a less prevalent criminal grouping, are suspects in the latest petrol bomb attack in Drogheda, which saw a 16-year-old boy suffer smoke inhalation.

A house in the Rathmullan Park estate in the Co Louth town was gutted in the attack, which happened at 5.10am yesterday.

The owner of the property has been described as "a decent, hard-working lady" who has no involvement in crime.

The 47-year-old woman was not in the house at the time of the attack.

It is understood the innocent teenage boy caught up in the incident is her son.

A 53-year-old man who was in the house is similarly not known to gardai. He was uninjured.

No arrests have been made, and gardai have appealed for information as they investigate the incident.

"A person described as wearing dark clothing was seen running from the area at the time of the incident," a garda spokesman said.

Officers said a technical examination of the property took place yesterday.

This revealed "extensive damage was caused to the exterior and interior of the house".

A source told the Herald the house next door to the torched property had four young children inside it at the time of the attack.

There were serious concerns that that house was going to go up in flames as well.

The Herald has learned that detectives are investigating the involvement of associates of Maguire who have been on a "major debt collection drive" in Drogheda in recent weeks.

Maguire was left paralysed after surviving a shooting nearly a year ago, when an attempt was made on his life

His mob is one of two involved in the Drogheda feud, which has given rise to dozens of violent incidents.

Mayhem

His outfit is suspected of a petrol bomb attack at 1.30am last Wednesday, when the innocent occupants of a house on the same housing estate had to be treated for smoke inhalation after they were targeted in a case of mistaken identity.

Yesterday morning's attack brings to four the number of petrol bomb incidents in the town in less than a fortnight as feuding gangsters continue to cause mayhem.

"The suspicion that gardai have is this latest attack was carried out by the Maguire faction who have been recently working with a smaller crime gang to collect debts," a senior source said last night.

"Innocent lives could have been easily lost here.

"This is definitely one of the most serious bomb attacks in the town since the feud began."

A mother-of-one who lives near the torched house said the arsonist gained access to the property through the front window.

"The window was covered up by a wooden board for some time, which made it easy for the fire starter to remove it so he could creep inside and set the place ablaze," she said.

"The house went up in flames within seconds and there was a lot of shouting and screaming while they were trying to find a way out.

"They had no choice but to run through the flames and out the front door in order to escape.

"The 16-year-old suffered from smoke inhalation and was brought to hospital, but they're lucky they escaped with their lives."

Hell

The woman, who did not want to be named, added that Rathmullan had recently turned into a "war zone".

"It's absolute hell living here," she said. "You go to sleep at night and worry if you're going to wake up the next day.

"Houses are constantly being targeted by gangs, and it's only a matter of time before an innocent person or child is killed.

"The sight of burnt-out houses and guards patrolling the estate has become the norm for our children.

"There are some very decent people living in this community, but these thugs have made Rathmullan a horrible place to live."

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