Belfast Telegraph

Former nurse linked to nuisance PSNI calls set to stand trial for arson

The defendant was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital after the fire
The defendant was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital after the fire

By Donal McMahon

A former nurse linked to over 170 emergency police calls in two years has been sent for trial on charges of arson threatening the life of her son at her own home.

Donna Fitzpatrick (50), from Longstone Road in Annalong, is charged with arson endangering life on July 3.

The accused had been held in custody on remand until recently, when she was released on bail.

The defendant, a nurse for 20 years and a classroom assistant for seven, appeared at Newry Magistrates' Court for a preliminary enquiry (PE) yesterday.

No objections were made for the PE, with the accused stating that she understood the charges.

No evidence or witnesses were brought forward at this stage.

The court previously heard the background to the case, involving an intoxicated Ms Fitzpatrick, who has suffered from mental health issues compounded by the death of her mother and mother-in-law.

The Newry court heard from a PSNI detective that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service was contacted by officers at 4pm.

The accused was taken from the scene to Daisy Hill Hospital by the fire brigade.

The alleged injured party, the accused's "juvenile son", spoke to the authorities, with the police wearing body cameras at the time.

The court heard that the son had returned home from work at 3pm to find his mother in her bedroom lying drunk with a bottle of wine. An unsuccessful attempt was made to remove the bottle.

The son then went into the living room to lie down.

At 3.52pm the fire alarm in the house went off.

The mother was found in the hallway on the floor with the curtains on fire.

When he approached his parent, the alleged injured party discovered a lighter and reeds in a plant pot, also on fire. The son covered the reeds and got out of the house with his mother.

Neighbours in the area came to their assistance and put buckets of water over the flames and the hair of the accused, which had also caught fire.

During police interview, Ms Fitzpatrick claimed that the matter had been an accident.

Defence made a successful application for her client's bail to be varied for a weekend trip away with her husband ahead of her trial in the new year.

District Judge Eamonn King granted the bail variation and adjourned the case to Newry Crown Court on January 30, when the trial will be arranged.

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