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Carryduff woman pleads guilty to manslaughter over OAP's death in blaze

By John Cassidy

Published 14/04/2016

Forensic officers at the scene of Samuel Carson’s home,
Forensic officers at the scene of Samuel Carson’s home,
Karen Hasson

A Co Down woman has admitted killing an elderly neighbour who died following a fire at his house.

Karen Hasson (58), from Thorndale Park, Carryduff, appeared in the dock of Downpatrick Crown Court in connection with the death of Samuel Carson (91).

Defence counsel Paddy Little QC asked Judge Piers Grant for his client to be rearraigned on a charge of manslaughter.

When the charge of killing the 91-year-old on September 2, 2014, was put to her by the clerk of the court, the defendant simply replied: "Guilty."

Prosecution lawyer Sam Magee told the court: "The guilty plea is acceptable to the Crown.

"The two remaining counts of arson endangering life with intent and arson endangering life are to be left on the books and not to be proceeded with without the leave of this court or the Court of Appeal." Mr Little asked for a pre-sentence report, adding that a psychiatric report would also be obtained ahead of the next court hearing.

Judge Grant adjourned sentencing until May 13 and released Hasson on continuing bail.

No details of the incident were given yesterday, but at a previous hearing a court was told that Mr Carson was asleep in bed at his home in the early hours of September 2, 2014, when a fire in the garage of a neighbouring house in Thorndale Park spread to his property.

At the time of the incident it was reported that the garage blaze spread to the pensioner's oil tank, causing his bungalow to go up in flames.

Firefighters pulled Mr Carson from his home but efforts to revive him failed and he was declared dead at the scene.

Approximately 40 firefighters were needed to tackle the inferno caused by Hasson.

Fire Service group commander Kevin O'Neill at the time described the circumstances of the fire as "tragic".

"When we arrived we saw that the fire had spread from the garage to an oil tank, which had ruptured causing the rupture of a second oil tank," he said.

"The running heating oil from these two oil tanks ran downhill and into another property, and the occupant of that property subsequently died as a result of the fire."

Mr Carson was a well-loved member of the local community and had been a long-standing member of Carryduff Baptist Church. He was also an animal lover who kept horses.

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