herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Wheelchair-user dad (55) killed in horror arson attack

Blaze: Neighbours tried to rescue man, but forced back by flames

A 55-year-old wheelchair-user has died in an arson attack on a house in Bray in the early hours of this morning.

Disabled David Costigan was trapped in the house on Oldcourt Avenue as fire engulfed terraced home at 4.30am.

His son Mark, who is in his 20s, was also in the house at the time, told the Herald how he desperately tried to save his father from the blaze but was fighting through smoke and flames and could not reach him.

Mark managed to escape out the back of the terraced property.

"I called out to him. I shouted at him to answer me and show me he was ok, and I heard him bang his foot on the floor upstairs so I know he was alive at that stage," Mark told the Herald.

"I had to hang out the bathroom window to get air, the smoke just filled the house."

The young man was being comforted by his siblings in the front garden of their home as his father's body lay covered by a garda forensic tent.

Sources say the early indications are that somebody kicked-in the panelling of the front door and poured a flammable liquid into the hallway before setting it alight.

Mark Costigan said he had received threats in recent days falsely accusing him of a recent incident in the Co Wicklow town. Gardai are investigating if there is a possible link between these threats and the fire.

Neighbours told the Herald they heard two loud bangs and then saw a wall of flames at the front door of the house.

"It was incredible. It was a fireball in seconds, there is no way an accidental fire could take off that quickly. This was petrol," said one man.

"I ran to the door to try and get in, but I was beaten back by the heat and smoke."

Three units of Wicklow Fire Brigade fought the blaze and removed Mr Costigan's body, but despite their efforts to revive him he could not be saved.

Gardai sealed off the scene pending a technical examination, and shortly after 9.30am Mr Costigan's body was removed for a post mortem which was due to take place at St Colmcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown today.

The garda armed response unit also attended the scene.

GRIEF

Local Sinn Fein councillor John Brady said the Oldcourt estate had a history of fatal fires and this morning's incident has "touched a raw nerve".

"David was a decent man. It's a tragedy for his devastated family," he told the Herald.

There was a deepened sense of grief in Bray because today marks the seventh anniversary of Bray firefighters Brian Murray (46), and Mark O'Shaughnessy (26), who died while trying to extinguish a blaze at a disused factory at Adelaide Villas off the Dargle Road in the town.

Separately in Swords, two adults and two children were hospitalised last night with minor injuries after they were rescued from a house fire in the Holywell area which broke out shortly after 12.30am.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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