herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

I started fire that killed little Mari

THIS is the man who has admitted starting the devastating blaze that killed schoolgirl Mari Connolly.

Mari (5) died after the fire was started maliciously at her home in Roscommon.

The little girl climbed back into her burning house as she was too afraid to jump.

John Lynch (33), of Church view in Boyle, Roscommon, pleaded guilty to Mari's manslaughter along with a charge of arson.

He also pleaded guilty at Roscommon Circuit Court of a separate charge of assault causing harm.

Lynch has been remanded in custody to appear in court in June for sentencing.



Sorry

At an earlier appearance, it was alleged that after being charged and cautioned, Lynch had replied: "I never intended for anyone to get hurt and I'm deeply sorry."

Mari's heartbroken father Richard Connolly (27) said that he was still suffering the loss of his "darling daughter".

"The pain of losing my daughter Mari is still as bad as when it happened," he said.

The tragic dad desperately tried to escape with his three daughters as the flames licked through his home.

He was looking after the girls, Lauren (8), Naomi (6) and Mari, while their mother Teresa Kane -- his former partner -- was in hospital giving birth to twins.

In the early hours of October 3 last year, Mr Connolly told how he woke to find the room engulfed in smoke and quickly got his children out of bed.

Mr Connolly was himself injured when he fell 12ft, hitting his back on concrete steps.

He had planned to break his neighbour's window on the back roof and help the girls through the opening. But after he put the girls on the roof, he lost his grip and slipped to the ground.

Mr Connolly said he then "screamed at Lauren to jump" and land on top of him, which she did. Naomi did the same thing and he told Mari to jump as well. "But I couldn't see her," he said. He kept screaming for her to jump but she was nowhere in sight.

Mari's mum named her twins after their sister -- Ava Mari and Layla Mari.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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