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Ballymena family's lucky escape after house set on fire

Second petrol bomb incident in Ballymena in just 24 hours

By Nevin Farrell

A grandmother has told of her terror after her living room was engulfed in a fireball caused by a petrol bomb.

Shauna Agnew (50) was speaking yesterday as she cleaned up at her Moat Road home in Ballymena's Harryville area.

Her four-year-old grandson became so scared during the attack he hid below a quilt and had to be plucked to safety.

Luckily the four people in the house - Shauna, boyfriend Raymond Johnston (51) and Shauna's two grandchildren Summer (7) and Matthew Bradbury - escaped injury.

She said it was fortunate the living room door was closed, as that had contained the flames and provided the family safe passage down the stairs of the two-storey property and out the front door.

Police said the attack happened at 12.30am on Saturday. It was the second petrol bombing in the town in 24 hours.

Early on Friday a house at Alfred Street Place was targeted.

The four occupants in that property were also uninjured.

Ms Agnew said it was fortunate a daughter and granddaughter had not been staying with her at the weekend, as they would have been in the living room beside the window the petrol bomb was thrown through.

Her daughter normally sleeps on the sofa damaged in the blaze when she visits from Carrickfergus, and her granddaughter would have been in a pram beside the window.

"The wee one would have been behind the suite facing the window and probably would have been dead," she said.

She explained that she had been lying in bed and her two grandchildren were in the front room when she heard a bang.

"I ran into the other bedroom and said to Raymond: 'I think my window is broken?'

"He ran down. I was already up with Summer but Matthew wouldn't come, he was stuck below the quilt, he was terrified.

"Finally Raymond shouted the place was on fire and we got down.

"We just got out and the house just went 'whoosh'.

"Luckily we were able to get down the stairs, and the living room door was closed, which was a good thing.

"If it had been open the flames would probably have come up the stairs.

"We had to get straight out of the house and I rung 999 straight away.

"If my daughter and grandchild had been in there, that would have been serious. They were supposed to come and stay with me on Friday."

Ms Agnew said she believed she was the innocent victim of a "dispute" and insisted she would not be forced out.

She added: "I am getting my house cleaned up. I am not moving, I have done nothing to anybody. I don't bother anybody, I don't even drink in the town. If I go out for a day I go to Belfast.

"I am worried now. We will have to be careful. I am scared of petrol coming in the letterbox. The police kept an eye out all last night and I saw them today as well."

The PSNI has appealed for anyone with information to contact 101, reference 40 of 22/4/17.

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