Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Criminal blames UDA for arson that could have killed his family

The house in Ballymena targeted yesterday

The UDA has been blamed for an early morning arson attack that could have killed three young children.

Lisa Chambers (39), her partner Darren Gilmore (38) and the children – Ben (14), Darren (12) and daughter Maci (4) – were able to flee their Co Antrim home after the attack at 1.40am on Wednesday.

Luckily, Gilmore – who believes he was the target of the attack as part of a UDA "vendetta" against him – had a fire extinguisher handy and was able to put out the flames before the Fire Service and police arrived.

Half a breeze block was thrown through the living room window of the house in Ballymena's Francis Street and a blaze was started, but damage was confined to that room.

Ms Chambers told the Belfast Telegraph: "We were sleeping, apart from Ben who was watching TV in his room, and I heard the window being put in and then the smoke alarm sounded.

"Ben shouted to us all to get up and we got the kids out of bed and out of the house.

"Luckily nobody was injured, but we could have been killed. Whoever did this are just scumbags."

Gilmore lives elsewhere in the Ballymena area and stays at Francis Street a couple of times a week.

In 2010 he was jailed for offences including possession of drugs with intent to supply, possessing counterfeit currency, and possession of a stun gun.

"This is a vendetta against me by elements of the UDA. I am a loyalist and was jailed before for things like an arson attack on Harryville chapel and other stuff," he said.

"These elements of the UDA asked me to do things and I wouldn't do it. If they have a problem with me, they should not be taking it out on innocent children. But I will not be leaving the Ballymena area."

Police are appealing for information following the arson attack.

Ballymena PSNI commander Chief Inspector Stephen McCauley said: "Thankfully we are not dealing with fatalities or serious injury here.

"The attack was crude, but also very dangerous.

"Police officers and the Fire Service arrived quickly on the scene to help the occupants of the house and take them to safety.

"I am asking anyone who knows anything about this attack to assist the police investigation by calling the non-emergency number 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

"Ballymena officers will also be in the area, so please speak to one of them if you know anything that might assist the investigation."

Police foot patrols were visible in the Harryville area yesterday morning.

Donna Anderson, a Traditional Unionist Voice councillor in the town, visited the family home on Wednesday morning.

She described the attack as "utterly reprehensible".

The councillor added: "Those responsible displayed a callous disregard for human life – including the lives of the three young children in the home."

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