Belfast Telegraph

Mother and teenage sons injured in petrol bombing 'murder attempt'

By Claire McNeilly

A petrol bomb attack on a property in Craigavon has been described as an outright attempt to murder two teenagers and their mother.

Two boys, aged 13 and 15, and their "terrified" mum, who is in her early 40s, were treated in hospital yesterday after their semi-detached home was targeted and extensively damaged.

All three victims were downstairs in the living room of the property in the Lakelands area when the device was thrown through the front window at 11.30pm on Thursday.

Up to four youths were seen fleeing from the scene, and neighbours said the woman and both youngsters have been "left terrified by the attack".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said he was horrified at the "deliberate attempt to murder".

"A group of individuals ran up to the window, smashed it and put a petrol bomb through it which ignited the living room," he said.

"The family got out; there were minor burns to the 13-year-old boy. None of them were hospitalised after the incident but they all did have to go back for hospital treatment for minor burns.

"There was a clear intent here to cause serious damage, serious injury and to murder.

"The intent was to set that house on fire.

"They would have known there were people inside it. And had they not escaped from that house and had the emergency services not arrived quickly, we could have been looking at a murder scene."

Following the attack, the woman and her sons, who were sitting watching TV in the living room, managed to escape through the front door of the property.

But the ex-soldier and UUP politician also said the family were lucky to be alive.

"Had they been in their beds the smoke could have infiltrated the rooms, the fire could have taken hold, they would not have been able to call the fire services and we could be looking at a very different situation," he said.

Mr Beattie, a war veteran, said it was "absolutely disgusting that people would turn up and set fire to somebody's house in this manner".

"The police have classed this as arson and intent to endanger life but it is clear that the intent here is to murder," he said.

"When somebody does something like that, at that time of night, there is an expectation that the people inside could be in bed and it's only for the fact that they were still up there is a different outcome.

"This is a semi-detached house right beside the Balancing Lakes. Had the fire caught hold, we could have been looking at two houses on fire and given the wind that comes from the Balancing Lakes, God knows what could have happened. This is as serious as it gets."

DUP MP David Simpson called for the youths who were seen running from the scene to come forward and identify themselves to the PSNI.

He added: "There can be no place for those who engage in such attacks and it is vital the police are given all necessary assistance to ensure those responsible are brought before the courts."

Detective Inspector Stephen Harvey said it was "an extremely reckless attack" adding that "it is fortunate that the injuries were not considerably worse".

"I appeal to anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area or anyone with information about this incident to contact detectives on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 1249 23/03/17," he said.

"Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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