Belfast Telegraph

Thugs who forced Ards woman to flee home return to torch property

By Brett Campbell

A woman has fled her home in Newtownards in terror after a series of attacks — including the smashing of six windows — before it was set alight early yesterday morning.

A number of her neighbours in Meadow Park on the Bowtown estate told the Belfast Telegraph about being woken abruptly and told to evacuate due to the growing flames.

The windows were smashed around 5am before the house was set on fire at 7am.

The blaze caused extensive damage downstairs and smoke damage to the rest of the mid-terrace property.

The woman, who was not injured in the attack, had already gone to stay with her parents before the house was set alight.

A next-door neighbour, who works night shifts, spoke of their shock at being suddenly woken by another resident alerting them to escape the burning terrace shortly after 7am.

“He was just shouting ‘the house is on fire, the house is on fire’. I looked out and couldn’t believe it, there was smoke everywhere and the house next door was on fire.

“I was so confused because I had just gone to bed after a night shift; I had to go to my girlfriend’s family home and sleep.”

Another neighbour was alerted by her dog barking.

“I knew something was wrong because the dog never gets on like that,” they said.

“I was in shock when I got up to see the fire brigade and the police across the road.

“The smoke was everywhere.”

Another resident added: “It’s nuts up here. I have lived here for years and seen this happen so many times.

“All you have to do is blink the wrong way.

“I don’t know the girl but she seemed to me just to be an ordinary mother.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt described the attack as “unjustifiable”.

“This was a particularly vicious attack, given the perpetrator or perpetrators returned after she left in an apparent attempt to torch the house,” he said.

“Society needs to be protected from the sort of person who would carry out this sort of act and I appeal to anyone with information to contact the police.”

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong also condemned the potentially deadly attack.   

“This attack happened in a residential area when most people are in bed,” she said.

“I dread to imagine what could have happened if the alarm had not been raised.

“Thankfully, the PSNI and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service were able to contain what could have been a tragic incident, and I would encourage anyone who saw anything to contact the police.”

Detective Sergeant McGrory has appealed for information and branded the attack as reckless. 

“These were quite reckless acts and we would wish to see the perpetrators brought to justice,” he said.

“I would appeal for anyone with information to contact detectives at Bangor on 101.”

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