Belfast Telegraph

Arsonists target delivery vans

OAPs left traumatised after gang torches vehicles in bid to lure police

By Donna Deeney

The lives of an elderly couple were put at risk by a mob which set fire to a delivery van parked at their front door in an attempt to lure police into the area.

The van, belonging to Peter McShane, who is the manager of Paolo's Pizza in Londonderry, was parked at the Meenan Square home of his parents.

It was one of two delivery vehicles belonging to him set alight in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Police and fire crews were called to the house and another address at nearby Lisfannon Park at 4.20am after the two vans were reported to have been set on fire and where a hostile crowd was waiting.

Mr McShane said it was just good luck that his father smelled smoke and raised the alarm.

He said: “My mother and father live at Meenan Square and both of them are in their eighties.

“My father is still recuperating from a serious heart operation and he woke up to the smell of smoke.

“This is the last thing they needed, they are both exhausted, they have been up all night and are completely traumatised by this.

“The van was parked in the driveway right at their front door and in fact he told me the door of the house was white hot from the flames so there could have been a really bad situation here if he hadn't raised the alarm.

“The other van was parked outside the home of one of our employees who looks after the vans.

“Both vans were completely burned out which means I am now down to two delivery vans, which is half what I need at the weekend.

“As you would expect, the weekend is the busiest time for us but I will now have to try and hire two vans so that my drivers don't lose out.

“I have been in business for 23 years and put up with years of rioting and trouble when we were in William Street but I thought we were over all that.”

A spokeswoman for the PSNI in Foyle said one of the lines of inquiry they were considering was that the arson attacks were used as a ploy to lure officers into the area.

Anyone who witnessed the attack or has any information to contact police at Strand Road station on 0845 600 8000 or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.

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