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Derry homeless man was not set on fire

Published 29/12/2015

Jimmy with Louise Sweeney and Nicole Wilson
Jimmy with Louise Sweeney and Nicole Wilson

After viewing CCTV footage of an incident during which a man’s trousers caught fire in Londonderry earlier this week, police are satisfied the fire was accidental.

Police said that there was no third party involvement and no crime was committed against the man.

It had been thought that the man was attacked by thugs after Foyle MLA and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan called for witnesses to what he described as "a disgusting vile act".

The man, known only as 'Jimmy', suffered burns to a leg when he was found with smoke pouring from his trousers in Foyle Street on Sunday at around tea-time.

One quick-thinking woman ran to his aid and tried to put out the flames by pouring a bottle of Lucozade over Jimmy's leg.

Nicole Wilson (17), from the Creggan, said she had passed Jimmy on the way to a shop with a friend, Louise Sweeney (18).

"When we came out of the shop, I could smell smoke," she said.

"And them I saw the smoke coming from Jimmy. We rushed over and all we had was a tiny bit of Lucozade Sport, and my friend poured it over his leg."

But the smoke continued to billow from Jimmy's trousers and a man rushed from a nearby bar to help extinguish the fire with pints of water.

Jimmy - known for his big beard and for wheeling a trolley around the streets - was described as "a harmless critter" by one man who knows him.

It is understood he originally hails from Scotland, where he is said to have been a respected jockey in his younger days.

A confused Jimmy, who is in his mid-50s, refused medical attention in the aftermath of the incident.

Nicole said his leg was bleeding and had bad burns on his lower leg. The flames had burnt through the two pairs of trousers he was wearing.

One man brought Jimmy two pairs of jeans to wear and contacted Foyle MLA and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

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