I will not be driven out, says mother targeted in Belfast arson attacks
A Belfast woman whose home was targeted by arsonists as she and her three children slept inside has said she is determined not to leave the area.
The mother - who asked not to be named out of fear for her safety - said she had been targeted by thugs two days in a row.
But she insisted: "I haven't done anything wrong, but they have - and me and my children will not be put out of our home because of this."
Petrol was poured into her letter box and set alight in the first incident on Saturday morning.
In the second - which happened yesterday morning - a stolen car was rammed into the wall at the front of her house before it was left to burn out at the back. The woman had been in the house on the Ormeau Embankment with her three children - two boys and a girl aged 16, 13 and 10 - at the time of the first attack on Saturday.
She said her daughter was so scared by the incident that she refused to stay at the house the next night.
Police described the attack as an "ordeal", saying the children were not injured but were left shaken.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the mother described how firefighters said she was lucky her whole house did not catch fire.
She showed how her children's coats hung beside the door and said she was fortunate she had recently removed the door mat.
The woman said she was woken up by her smoke alarm.
She said: "On Saturday morning, at around 6am, my smoke alarm went off and then it stopped. Then it went off again.
"I went out to switch it off thinking it was faulty, and I saw the smoke coming up the stairs. I just knew I just had to get the kids out. It was the first thing I could think about.
"My daughter wouldn't stay here last night. She went to her friend's caravan because she was so scared because of what happened the night before.
"Then at three o'clock this morning I heard the wheels screeching - you can see the marks on the road - I just assumed it was joy-riders."
Pointing to damage on the wall at the front of her house, she continued: "They must have banged into the front wall head-first and they did it again. That's what woke us up. I stood at the window and my youngest son started crying - it woke him up.
"I thought they would just drive off, but no, they spun their wheels and drove straight into my gate. The house was shaking and there was so much noise. It was so loud it was unreal. I've never seen anything like that before. It scared the life out of me."
She said she believes the incident was an attempt to intimidate her but said she will not leave her home.
"I won't move away, I shouldn't have to - I haven't done anything wrong. It's my home and that of my kids, so why torture me and my kids?" she said.
Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough Brown condemned the violence.
"This sort of wanton criminality should not be supported by anyone - it's important anyone with information speaks to police," he said.
Detectives say they are investing a link between the two incidents and are appealing for those with information to contact Musgrave Police Station on 101 quoting reference number '306 of 14/08/16'.
Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.