Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Plea for arson evidence 10 years on

The site in Tallaght, Co Dublin, where Stephen Hughes Connors died after a suspected arson attack in September 2001

The mother of a 12-year-old boy who died in a suspected arson attack has made a heartfelt plea for fresh evidence on the 10th anniversary of his death.

Stephen Hughes Connors was camping out in a makeshift hut with a 14-year-old friend in Tallaght, Co Dublin, at around 5am on September 1 2001 when they were engulfed by flames.

His friend tried in vain to rescue him but was forced to flee for his own life.

CCTV footage from a nearby house shows a suspect walking towards the hut, made from pallets, doors and carpet, at Rossfield Avenue, Brookfield, before apparently setting it alight.

A man, now aged 51, was arrested in 2006 by the Garda serious crime review team, who were reinvestigating the death, and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Liz Hughes, Stephen's mother, said she remains devastated by her son's death 10 years on. "I'm pleading with anyone who knows what happened that night to contact the Guards," she said. "It would be a comfort to know what happened to Stephen - even after all these years."

The case remains on the files of the Garda cold case unit. Detectives believe evidence from a witness could provide a crucial link between an identified chief suspect and the incident.

"If we can get evidence against that person - that's the main focus of our investigation," said one Garda source.

Gardai said it is possible that the suspect did not know there was anyone sleeping in the hut at the time. They have also renewed their appeal for evidence on the fatal blaze.

Superintendent Eamon Dolan, of Tallaght Garda station, said: "I'm confident that there are people out there who know what happened that night or who may have been confided in afterwards."

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