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Family's lucky escape after petrol bomber targets Co Antrim home

By Nevin Farrell

A mum whose brother-in-law was viciously murdered in Ballymena 19 years ago says it is lucky her family didn't suffer more tragedy following a petrol bomb attack on her home.

Samantha Kirk (43) was speaking after her property at Alfred Street Place in the Harryville area of Ballymena came under attack at 3.45am yesterday.

Samantha, son Rico (11), daughter Samara (18) and ex-partner Jason Kirk (43) were in the house but escaped uninjured.

Mr Kirk, whose brother Stephen (25) was murdered in 1998, spotted the flames from the petrol bomb.

Although some damage was caused to the outside of the house the fire did not take hold inside and he was able to get everybody to safety.

The murder of Stephen (below) in the Sportsman's Bar, at the corner of Ballymoney and William Street, shocked the town in March 1998.

Mr Kirk died three days after being savagely attacked in the toilets.

As she spoke of her family's lucky escape in the blaze, Samantha said yesterday's incident brought back memories of the tragedy from almost two decades ago, and said they too could have died.

"Thankfully nobody was hurt, but if somebody throws a petrol bomb at a house it is attempted murder," she said.

Samantha added it was fortunate her ex-partner was there to raise the alarm.

He visits her house sometimes when she has to get up for work.

The stunned mum said she did not know why the family was targeted.

"I have not a clue why this happened. My son Reece's girlfriend's house was petrol bombed in October time in Ballykeel," she said.

"He would be here sometimes, or at my mum's or at the girlfriend's."

She did not know if the two petrol bomb attacks were linked.

Surveying the damage at her home yesterday, she added: "A bin box was burnt and then the gas tank was taken away by the police, the fire and the gas people, to stop it catching fire.

"There were four of us in the house. I was in my bed.

"I heard a bang but I never thought anything of it and my ex-partner, he was sitting in the living room, and he heard the bang and saw the flames and then he shouted up at me and I got the weans up.

"Thankfully there was not much damage inside the house, just a bit of glass. The blinds must have stopped it a bit."

Police appealed for anyone with information to contact detectives at Ballymena by calling 101, quoting reference 147 of 21/4/17.

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