herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Mum's terror as arson suspect is freed by gardai

THE chief suspect in an arson attack on the north Dublin home of a terrified mum and her seven-year-old girl has been released without charge.

The incident unfolded at the home of Martina Ward on Millbrook Road, Kilbarrack, on Friday morning.

Miraculously neither Martina (34) nor her daughter Nadine (7) were in the house when it was targeted.

Gardai arrested the chief suspect on Saturday afternoon and he was detained for 24 hours at Santry Garda Station before being released without charge yesterday.



Records

A senior source explained: "This man was picked up by gardai at Balgriffin Cemetery where he was found praying at his mother's grave.

"He was questioned about the arson attack but was released without charge as there is not enough evidence to charge him at this stage.

"He remains the chief suspect in this case and a file will be prepared for the DPP."

It is understood that examination of mobile phone records will play a key part in the investigation. Gardai are also now working on the theory that the suspect was helped by other men when he took part in the arson attack.

Speaking in the aftermath of the blaze, Martina told the Herald: "I know who did this -- he is just pure evil. I could have died, my child could have died. It was only by pure chance that we were not there

"I have lived in that house all my life and now it is completely destroyed. I am homeless now -- I have been left with nothing. All our clothes and money were burned in the fire. I really don't know where to turn. The Christmas presents that I got for Nadine were destroyed -- we are totally heartbroken.

"The man that did this is a madman -- I know he wanted to murder my daughter and me. He thought we were in that house -- if we were we would be dead now."

The arson suspect is a notorious sex offender and chronic alcoholic aged in his mid 40s who served a number of jail sentences.

In the 1990s he was given a lengthy sentence for abducting and brutally assaulting a Dublin man.

The assault lasted for an hour and during it the arson suspect forced his victim to strip and at one stage pressed a lit cigarette into his neck.

Martina Ward -- who knows the suspect extremely well -- has been left homeless after the fire but is hoping that Dublin Corporation will fund repair works at her gutted home.

Four units of Dublin fire brigade fought the flames which totally destroyed the front door and hall area of the house at 8am on Friday.

Scorch and smoke marks that rise all the way to the roof of the house showed how high the flames had been at the height of the blaze.

kfoy@herald.ie

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