Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Look what you've done: Derry attack victim's fight after being scarred for life by petrol bombers

Left with horrific burns after a petrol bomb was hurled into his home, Thomas Curry tells thugs to 'come clean'

Thomas Curry hopes to be released from hospital soon
Thomas Curry hopes to be released from hospital soon
Thomas Curry hopes to be released from hospital soon

A man who almost died when a petrol bomb was hurled through his window has urged the callous thugs who nearly killed him to examine their consciences.

Thomas Curry was left for dead after suffering 40% burns to his body and will bear the disfiguring marks of the arson attack for the rest of his life – while his attackers remain at large.

Thomas was engulfed in flames after the device was thrown into his living room while he was asleep on the settee of his Londonderry home in what police believe was a case of mistaken identity.

Doctors feared he would not survive, and Thomas (44) suffered such horrendous burns to his body that he had to be kept in an induced coma for six weeks.

The Waterside man was hooked up to machines that operated his major internal organs while medics treated his face, hands, arms and upper torso for third degree burns.

Thomas's voice box was so badly damaged in the attack that he has had to learn how to talk again, but six months after his life changed forever, he has revealed that he is preparing to leave hospital in two weeks time.

"This has been a tough road for me and for my brothers and sisters too, who have had to make the journey to Belfast every day from May to September to see me," he said.

"Seeing them was all I had to look forward to and the only thing that kept me going. Even though I was in a coma for the first six weeks they still came.

"I have had to learn how to speak again and that has been tough. I am also learning how to walk again because of all the skin graft operations I needed.

"They had to take the skin from my legs so that means I am mostly in a wheelchair now, but I am learning how to walk with the help of a Zimmer frame.

"All those months lying in hospital I did think about the ones who did this to me. I wouldn't hurt anybody or anything, it is against my nature, so I find it hard that someone could do this to me.

"I would like them to look at me, look at how they left me and maybe then they will do the right thing and hand themselves in.

"Getting discharged from Belfast was a really big deal for me because I knew it was a step in the right direction towards me getting out of hospital – and now that day is just two weeks away.

"I can't go back to living on my own yet but I hope that day will come. In the meantime I am going to live with my sister Helen and I have been learning how to do things for myself like make a cup of tea and how to get about in the wheelchair.

"I know I have come a long way since May but I am here and I have my family and that counts for so much."

Thomas's family describe him as a gentle person, but his 13 brothers and sister are angry that his attackers have so far escaped justice.

His sister, Philomena Dismore, had harsh words for those responsible and for anyone who may be withholding information.

She said: "What angers us so much is that Thomas is so gentle, soft-natured and kind, which is the complete opposite of the ones who did this.

"They don't know what he has been through. They don't know that it took three to four hours every day to change his bandages. They don't know the pain he suffered.

"But they will know now – all they have to do is look at him. We know there will be people who know who did this to our brother and they need to do the right thing too. They need to stop protecting the people who did this."

Police issue appeal in hunt for justice

The barbaric attack on Thomas Curry has been described by police as amongst the most serious crimes short of murder ever to have happened in Derry.

Mr Curry (44) was asleep on the sofa of his living room in his Waterside home in May when a petrol bomb was hurled blindly through his window, engulfing him in flames.

His neighbours rescued him but doctors feared the burns to his body were too extensive for him to survive.

Since the attack, police have built up their investigation and say they believe they have a "good picture" of what happened that night.

But Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said the local community holds the key to justice for Mr Curry.

He said: "This attack on Mr Curry is undoubtedly one of the most serious crimes carried out in the city short of murder.

"It was brutal and the injuries sustained by Mr Curry were horrendous. We believe this was a case of mistaken identity but no matter who the intended target was, this was grossly unacceptable. We do have a good picture of the events of that night but I would appeal to the local community to give us the evidence we need to close the case. We can help protect anyone who gives us information."

Four people were arrested in the days after the attack on Mr Curry but were later released without charge.

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