Indian family 'devastated' after car 'completely destroyed' in arson attack
Police are treating it as a hate crime
A mother and her two daughters have escaped injury after their car was completely destroyed in an arson attack which spread causing smoke damage to their house in Antrim.
Firefighters dealt with a car on fire in the area which caused damage to a side window of a house in the Meadow Drive area of Antrim.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS)received a call at 6.18am on Friday November 27 to a report of a car on fire.
The semi-detached house also received slight smoke damage to the inside of the property.
Subi Philip a cardiac nurse from Antrim and her two daughters, who are originally from India, were inside the house.
Speaking to the BBC Subi said she felt trapped and shaken by the incident - her husband is currently in India for his father's funeral.
No-one was injured during the incident.
Two fire appliances from Antrim Fire Station and one appliance from Ballymena fire station were sent to the scene.
A NIFRS spokesman said: "Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service finished at the scene at 7:02am and the fire is being treated as deliberate. The incident has been passed through to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”
Police are appealing for information following the incident which they are treating as a hate crime. They said the attack "completely destroyed" the car.
Chief Inspector John Allen said: “This is being treated as a hate crime and we are actively investigating the incident and providing support to the family.
“We believe that the attack was motivated by racial hatred. Any attack on property is unacceptable, however I totally condemn the racial hate crime element of this attack, which makes it particularly repugnant
“I am encouraged by the support the family have received following the incident. I would further ask that anyone with any information on the matter contacts police on the non-emergency number 101. Or, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
UUP South Antrim MLA Adrian Cochrane-Watson said he was "disgusted" to hear of the "cowardly arson attack".
Mr Cochrane-Watson said: “I was absolutely disgusted to wake up this morning to learn that a family home has been attacked and a car in the drive set on fire.
“The family affected are originally from India and there is obviously a fear that this disgraceful attack may have been racially motivated.
"Whatever the motivation, there is simply no excuse and it was the work of cowards who have earned the contempt of the entire Antrim community.
“I have visited the house and spoken to the lady who was at home with her two children when she was alerted to the danger.
"She is obviously very upset, not least because her husband is currently in India to bury his father, which merely reinforces the cruelty behind this attack.
“I know that the vast majority of people in Antrim share my sense of revulsion at this incident. This was an attack on hard-working people who have lived within the local community for ten years.
"They both work in Antrim Area Hospital providing a vital service to everyone, which is in stark contrast to the cowards responsible for this attack.
“I would urge anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Meadow Drive area of Antrim shortly after 6am this morning, or who has any information that could help the Police to catch the cowards responsible, to please come forward immediately.”
SDLP councillor Roisin Lynch called it an "utterly reckless and callous attack that has left a family and community devastated".
She said: "There can be no justification or motivation for attempting to burn someone’s property to the ground. We’re only lucky this morning that Subi was able to get her family out of the house quickly before anyone was injured.
“This is a woman who has served our community as a cardiac nurse for years. She has set down roots and helped transform the lives of local people for the better. That stands in stark contrast to those who carried out this vicious attack.
“I would encourage anyone with any information to bring it forward to the police as soon as possible.”