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Belfast arson accused 'doused teen girl in petrol and turned on gas cooker', court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 20/08/2015

Bail was refused.
Bail was refused.

A man allegedly doused his sister's teenage friend in petrol during an arson attack in their north Belfast home, a court heard today.

Marc McGrandles is also accused of starting the blaze by flicking a lit cigarette and then turning on a gas cooker in the property.

Police claimed four girls in the house and neighbours could all have been put at risk during the incident at the house on Oldpark Road in the early hours of July 20.

McGrandles, 21, faces charges of arson with intent to endanger life, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.

He was refused bail due to the risk of interference with a witness in the case.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he had got into an argument with his 17-year-old sister while three of her friends were in the house.

It was claimed that he punched her repeatedly before going downstairs and then returning with a petrol canister and lit cigarette in his mouth.

He splashed some of the contents on the first floor landing outside his sister's bedroom, it was claimed.

According to a PSNI detective the four girls at some stage made it downstairs.

The officer claimed: "He (McGrandles) splashed petrol over the face and body of one of the teenagers."

The court also heard how the accused allegedly threw the still burning cigarette into a patch of petrol, causing it to ignite almost immediately.

During the incident some of the girls were said to have run to the back of the house.

McGrandles was seen turning on the gas cooker before they fled towards the front, it was alleged.

By that stage the Fire Service had arrived and forced their way into the house. No gas ignited.

Opposing bail, the officer said in interviews McGrandles repeatedly stated his intention was to kill himself.

He added: "There was no consideration given to turning on the gas in the house, a semi-detached property with neighbours."

The three friends of McGradles' sister have all expressed concerns for their safety, according to the detective.

"Particularly the young girl who said she was doused in petrol; she stated she was terrified he would be in such close proximity," he told the court.

Defence solicitor Aiden Carlin argued that McGrandles should still be presumed innocent.

Conceding that no alternative address was available, he said his client's mother wanted her family reunited.

But the judge refused bail based on the prospect of McGrandles living in the same house as his sister.

Citing a further risk of re-offending, she remanded him in custody to appear again by video-link in four weeks time.

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