herald

Monday 18 November 2019

Gilligan pal suspected of botched fire attack on family home

Mum feared she and three kids were going to die in blaze

Aftermath of the arson attack
Aftermath of the arson attack

A close associate of veteran crimelord John Gilligan is suspected of ordering an arson attack which could have led to the murders of an innocent woman and her three children.

Gardai have not been able to find enough evidence to charge the west Dublin thug who they suspect orchestrated the attack - which was not intended to target the young family who were almost killed in the inferno.

Maggie Green (31) was in her rented apartment in Inchicore, Co Dublin, with her three children when it was set on fire on the night of September 18, 2017.

Maggie and her children Francie (9) and Savannah (7) were left fighting for their lives and suffered horrific permanent injuries.

Her eldest child, John (13), was treated for smoke inhalation and is still traumatised by the incident.

Jailed

Last month, Ian O'Connor (29), of Emmet Crescent, Inchicore, was jailed for 10 years for the shocking crime after Dublin Circuit Court heard that he also threw a pipe bomb at another family home less than a month later.

"Gardai have worked on the theory that the Inchicore arson attack was ordered by a close associate of John Gilligan who had been in a disagreement with another criminal," a senior source told the Herald.

"O'Connor is believed to have thought that the other criminal who was in dispute with Gilligan's associate was in the apartment at the time, but this was not the case and the entirely innocent occupants of the house had a very lucky escape.

"There was not enough evidence to get charges against the Gilligan associate, who is in his 20s and also would have had no idea that Ms Green and her children were to be targeted."

Hated criminal Gilligan (66) is not suspected of having any involvement or knowledge of the arson attack.

Mum Maggie Green
Mum Maggie Green
Mum Maggie Green in hospital after the arson attack on her home in Inchicore, Dublin.

He will not serve any more jail time in Northern Ireland after he was arrested with more than €22,000 in a suitcase at Belfast International airport last August, which prosecutors alleged was criminal property.

The prosecutor confirmed at a hearing at Coleraine Magistrates' Court in January that if found guilty, the maximum sentence that the accused could face would be six months.

Gilligan had already served five months on remand, the equivalent of a 10-month sentence.

The crimelord (inset) is still contesting the charges in the North and he remains on bail after he was allegedly caught trying to take €22,800 in a suitcase on a flight to Spain.

His associate who is suspected of ordering the Inchicore arson attack is on bail in this jurisdiction in relation to serious drugs charges and he has also been involved in a bitter west Dublin feud that has led to four gun murders.

Ian O'Connor pleaded guilty to arson at Tyrone Place, Inchicore, on September 18, 2017.

He also admitted arson at Ailesbury Road, Dublin, on October 15, 2017.

Speaking after O'Connor was sentenced last month, Maggie Green told the Herald that she feared he would target her family home again once he was released from prison.

"I'm absolutely disgusted by the judge's sentence," she said.

"O'Connor received 12 years for what he done to my family, but the judge suspended the final two on condition that he keeps the peace.

"He was then sentenced to six years' imprisonment for the other fire, but it will run concurrently with the first.

"This means that the other family got no justice at all.

"With good behaviour, I'm convinced he'll be out in six years."

Ms Green said she felt O'Connor was not remorseful in court and does not believe prison will rehabilitate him.

"He's a very sick and evil man," she added.

"Myself and my children are so scared thinking about the day when he's released.

Monster

"I fear that he'll come after us again because we're the reason he's behind bars. A man like that needs to be locked up for life.

"My children and I are covered in scars and every time I look at them I think about what this monster has done."

The court heard that in the first attack, the heat of the fire caused a hearing aid to melt in Savannah's ear, leaving her with a permanent scar.

Ms Green was asleep in her apartment along with her three children and woke to find the stairs on fire.

Ms Green was trapped upstairs by the fire and tried unsuccessfully to smash the windows to escape.

She covered her two youngest children with wet towels in her bedroom and was choking on smoke when they were rescued by the fire brigade.

Her eldest son had fallen asleep while watching television downstairs and woke up to the sight of the front door on fire.

John escaped via a balcony at the back of the apartment with the help of a neighbour who brought him a ladder.

O'Connor admitted starting the fire by pouring petrol in the letterbox and onto the front door.

He said he owed money to certain people who had instructed him to light the fire and had told him that there would be no one in the house.

Gardai said O'Connor believed that his family would have been pipe-bombed had he not lit the fire.

O'Connor was given a bag of cocaine beforehand, but said he did not do it for the drugs.

In a victim impact statement which was read out in court, Ms Green said her seven-year-old daughter's hearing aid had melted in the fire, causing a permanent scar to her ear.

The court heard all four members of the family sustained injuries.

Ms Green said she thought that she and her children were all going to die.

She said she remembered her youngest son telling her that he was going to heaven and that he would come back and help them escape from the fire.

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