A so-called vengeful burglar has gone on trial with his girlfriend accused of attempting to burn a doctor and his family to death.
Belfast Crown Court heard that the family were only saved “by some good luck” when 31-year-old Roy Martin Kerr set himself alight and screamed out in agony, wakening the family.
Kerr, from Shore Road in Belfast, and 21-year-old Tanya Diana Holmes, whose address was given as the Simon Community, Lodge Road, Coleraine, both deny attempting to murder Dr Raymond White, his wife and son on May 8 last year.
The couple also deny the arson at the doctor's east Belfast home in Kensington Road, the attempted arson of their cars and handling a stolen Ford Focus.
Prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy revealed that Dr White, who died in June, was due to give evidence against Kerr, who two years earlier was also convicted in connection of a burglary at the house.
He told Judge Geoffrey Miller and the jury of eight men and four women that the “case is about what this defendant Roy Kerr and his friend Tanya Holmes did to a normal family living in a residential area of Belfast”.
“They tried to kill them by setting fires in the middle of the night around every exit from their home and were preparing also to set alight their cars parked around the house,” said Mr Murphy.
The Crown lawyer further claimed that “this was not a prank or a folly of some kind. This was well planned and prepared, it was considered and thought-out.
“It was motivated by revenge or vengeance .... it was executed with an evil disregard for the wellbeing of decent, innocent people,” he added.
However, Mr Murphy said that “by some good luck Roy Kerr managed to set his hand on fire and shouted in pain.... averting the tragedy that would have ensued”.
Mr Murphy said that both Kerr and Holmes were equally guilty of the joint enterprise, which had “but one sinister, carefully planned and vicious intent, to burn down the White family home with them inside it”.
The Crown lawyer also claimed that the pair were captured on CCTV in a nearby petrol station on the Upper Newtownards Road, where they allegedly bought a plastic petrol container, petrol and a cheap disposable “clipper lighter”.
Earlier he told the jury that “the prosecution case is such that you will be satisfied the evidence before you is clear, cogent and persuasive as to their guilt”.