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Nurse and her daughters in lucky escape after race hate thugs firebomb family's car

By Chris McCullough

Published 28/11/2015

Subi Philip outside her home
Subi Philip outside her home
Sarah with her family and Ulster Unionist MLA Adrian Cochrane-Watson
The burnt out car

A distraught mother has described the horrific moment she awoke to discover her car alight after being torched outside the bedroom of her two young daughters.

The blaze, which is being treated as a hate crime by police, also took hold of the family home where Subi Philip and her girls aged eight and 10 were fast asleep.

Subi woke around 6am after hearing a "really loud bang" outside the home on Meadow Drive in Antrim.

The family are originally from India and have been living in the property for more than 10 years.

Her husband is currently on the subcontinent attending the funeral of his father.

Subi ran into the bedroom where her two daughters were screaming: "Mummy, mummy, are we going to die in the fire?"

She said: "I am in complete shock. My girls were sleeping in the upstairs room right next to the car that went on fire. The side of the house was on fire and I was very afraid of what could happen.

"My girls were terrified and so was I. My husband is in India, so we were all alone. I took the girls and ran downstairs. Someone was banging the door, but I did not know who it was.

"I did not want to open the door, as I thought we would be attacked. But it was the neighbours who came out to help us.

"We called the fire brigade, but they did not come very quickly. It seemed to be about half-an-hour before they came."

Subi works as a cardiac nurse in Antrim Area Hospital, where her husband also works as a nurse.

There are 60 Indian families in Antrim who all work in the hospital and they are a close-knit community in the area.

Subi's friends are rallying round to help her sort out her house and car while her husband is away.

"I did not tell my husband at first," said Subi. "I did not want to make him worry while he was burying his father.

"The girls go to the nearby St Comgall's Primary School, which has been very supportive. Once the school heard about what happened they called me and told me to bring the children as normal and they would take good care of them.

"I was very happy they went there as it gives me some time to try and sort things out. But I don't know if we will sleep in the house. I don't know if it is safe for me or the children."

Police are treating the incident as a hate crime, but Subi does not understand why anyone would want to harm them.

"Who would do this? Why would they do this?" she asked.

"We work hard and harm no one. I am still in deep shock and I worry for my girls.

"We have lived here happily for 10 years with no problems. The people who have done this should not be doing such terrible things.

"I should not have to see my kids in such danger. I cannot believe it."

The family's new Kia Picanto was destroyed and damage was caused to the house, melting the windows on one side.

Local UUP MLA Adrian Cochrane-Watson hit out at the racists behind the attack: "I know that the vast majority of people in Antrim share my sense of revulsion at this incident," he said.

"This was an attack on hard-working people who have lived within the local community for 10 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."

SDLP councillor Roisin Lynch was on the scene yesterday. She said: "I am absolutely disgusted about this. It's hard to understand why anyone would carry out such an attack."

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 it 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."

The Fire Service said it received the call at 6.18am and arrived at the scene at 6.34am.

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