Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

'Lisa was covered in blood and was half-naked and burnt. She desperately pleaded for help'

The scene after the home of Thomas O'Hare and Lisa McClatchey was burnt down in November 2006
The scene after the home of Thomas O'Hare and Lisa McClatchey was burnt down in November 2006

A battered and severely burned woman called out to her neighbour for help "in desperation", a jury has heard.

Giving evidence at the Armagh Crown Court trial of four brothers accused of the double murder of Thomas O'Hare (33) and his partner, 21-year-old Lisa McClatchey, Seamus Loughran described how he heard a "loud banging" at his home on the Foley Road near Tassagh in Co Armagh.

His daughter Alana, who was just 11 years old at the time, opened the front door but immediately "slammed it shut" and burst into "screaming hysterics", he told the jury.

Mr Loughran recounted how his daughter told him there was someone outside "covered in blood" and that he was so alarmed he locked the doors to his home.

After calling out through a window, he said he heard a "scary voice", like the person was "in desperation" and when he opened the door he was confronted by a half-naked and severely burnt Ms McClatchey.

Mr Loughran told prosecuting QC Toby Hedworth Ms McClatchey said to him that "five or six masked men came into the house and I don't know if she said they beat her or they beat her and Tom, and she said that they called him a 'f****** paedophile'."

The four Smith brothers, Martin (40), from Kevlin Glen near Omagh; Niall (37), from Mourneview Park in Lurgan; Christopher (33) and Stephen (31), both from Mourneview in Mowhan, all deny the murders and arson with intent to endanger life in November 2006.

The jury of six men and six women have already heard it is the Crown case that in revenge for sexual abuse against Stephen Smith in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they attacked Mr O'Hare with sledgehammers in his home on Foley Road and set it on fire.

Although they were attacked on November 6, Mr O'Hare did not die until November 10 and his 21-year-old partner survived until November 15 before she succumbed to her injuries.

Yesterday Mr Loughran said he had known Mr O'Hare for most of his life and although he knew his neighbour had admitted sexually abusing three boys, including Stephen Smith, "it never caused me or my family any problems".

Turning to the night of the incident, he told Mr Hedworth that Ms McClatchey's main concern was that the bungalow was on fire with "Tom still inside".

She was naked from the waist up he told the jury, and described how her jeans had been burnt away from her legs.

He added that she asked him to take her belt off because the buckle was so hot "it was burning into her".

"She was saying that she couldn't see, she couldn't see, the pain she was in," he told the jury.

Mr Loughran said he left her in the bathroom of his home and ran towards his neighbour's house, which was on fire.

He called out Mr O'Hare's name and heard a "muffled voice".

That voice, the jury heard, was coming from Thomas O'Hare, lying half-naked, covered in blood and despite knowing him for most of his life, Mr Loughran found it "difficult to recognise him".

"He was in a bad condition," he told the lawyer.

"His face seemed to be covered in blood and there were marks on his upper body."

Mr O'Hare was in a "semi-conscious" state and Mr Loughran said he reassured him to "stick with it, the ambulance is coming".

Other neighbours arrived on the scene and leaving his stricken neighbour with them, Mr Loughran ran back to his own house where he got a dressing gown for Lisa and fetched sheets and blankets for Thomas.

Working together, the men managed to get Mr O'Hare lifted on to a sheet and using it as a stretcher, carried him back to Mr Loughran's house.

One of those men, neighbour Patrick Toner, also gave evidence, telling the jury how he and his father were in a field feeding horses when they spotted the blaze.

Rushing to the scene, Mr Toner found Mr O'Hare lying in the road calling for help, shouting in fear "who is it, who is it?", and that he could "smell burning and the smell of petrol" coming from him.

Asked by Mr Hedworth if Mr O'Hare said anything about the attack, he told the lawyer he said "three or four boys had come in an attacked him" and that the house had been "doused in petrol".

The trial continues.

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