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Co Down woman accused of killing 91-year-old neighbour in arson attack on own home

Pensioner Sam Carson died after blaze at neighbour's garage spread to his house.

By Ali Gordon

Published 11/08/2015

Karen Hasson appeared at Newtownards Magistrates' Court on charges of arson, manslaughter and endangering the life of Brian Hasson.
Karen Hasson appeared at Newtownards Magistrates' Court on charges of arson, manslaughter and endangering the life of Brian Hasson.
Forensic officers at the scene of the deadly house fire in Carryduff which claimed the life of 91-year-old Sam Carson. Pacemaker.

This is the woman accused of unlawfully killing her 91-year-old neighbour after allegedly setting fire to the garage of her own Co Down home.

Karen Hasson, 58, appeared at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to face charges of manslaughter, arson and endangering the life of Brian Hasson.

Pensioner Sam Carson had been asleep in bed at his Carryduff home in the early hours of September 2, 2014 when a fire in the garage of a house in Thorndale Park spread to his adjacent Hillsborough Road home.

At the time it was reported that the garage blaze spread to Mr Carson’s oil tank, causing the pensioner’s bungalow to go up in flames.

Firefighters rescued Mr Carson from his home but efforts to revive him failed and he was declared dead at the scene.

Karren Hasson is accused of setting fire to a garage at a property at Thorndale Park in Carryduff belonging to Brian Hasson on September 2, 2014.

Her address on the charge sheet was the same house in Thorndale Park where the alleged garage arson attack took place.

Dressed in a black coat and grey suit trousers, Karen Hasson clasped her hands and spoke only to confirm her identity and that she knew the charges against her.

She was charged with unlawfully killing Mr Carson and with arson with intent to endanger the life of Brian Hasson.

She was also charged with an arson attack on Mr Hasson’s garage endangering the lives of people in the adjacent property.

The court heard that the charges against Hasson were of “a serious nature” and District Judge Hamill ordered the case to be heard at Downpatrick Crown Court on September 8.

Judge Hamill granted Hasson a £500 bail application.

At the time, Fire Service group commander Kevin O’Neill described the circumstances of the fire as “tragic”.

It took 40 firefighters to tackle the blaze but they could not save Mr Carson.

He said at the time: “When we arrived we saw that the fire had spread from the garage to an oil tank, which had ruptured causing the rupture of a second oil tank, and the running heating oil from these two oil tanks ran downhill into another property, and the occupant in that property subsequently died as a result of the fire.”

Mr Carson was a well-loved member of the local community and had been a long-standing member of Carryduff Baptist Church.

The pensioner was also an animal lover who kept horses.

At the time a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said: “Firefighters rescued a 91-year-old man from the property and alongside ambulance personnel they carried out CPR but sadly the man died at the scene.

“Fire crews dealt with the fire involving the bungalow, the garage and the oil tanks by 5am. In total seven fire appliances and a command support unit and around 40 firefighters attended the incident.”

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