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Arsonist poured petrol under doors of flats - then found himself trapped

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McBurney/Murder Triangle- Strictly Sunday Life Use Only
Pictured GV's of the streets and area between the Cliftonville Road and Brookvale Ave just off the Antrim Road where a number of murders have been committed over the past few years. Pictured Brookvale Avenue
 
Location: North Belfast
Picture date Wednesday 22nd July 2009
Pictures by Liam McBurney
Copyright Liam McBurney
Liam McBurney
liammcburney@gmail.com 
+44 7837 68 57 67

McBurney/Murder Triangle- Strictly Sunday Life Use Only Pictured GV's of the streets and area between the Cliftonville Road and Brookvale Ave just off the Antrim Road where a number of murders have been committed over the past few years. Pictured Brookvale Avenue Location: North Belfast Picture date Wednesday 22nd July 2009 Pictures by Liam McBurney Copyright Liam McBurney Liam McBurney liammcburney@gmail.com +44 7837 68 57 67

McBurney/Murder Triangle- Strictly Sunday Life Use Only Pictured GV's of the streets and area between the Cliftonville Road and Brookvale Ave just off the Antrim Road where a number of murders have been committed over the past few years. Pictured Brookvale Avenue Location: North Belfast Picture date Wednesday 22nd July 2009 Pictures by Liam McBurney Copyright Liam McBurney Liam McBurney liammcburney@gmail.com +44 7837 68 57 67

An arsonist who set fire to two flats, forcing the emergency services to rescue five people, has been jailed for six years.

Ordering 57-year-old Robert Tweedie to spend half his sentence in jail and half on supervised licence, Belfast Crown Court Judge David McFarland said he had exposed fire fighters, police officers and the residents to risk.

At the end of his trial last month Tweedie, from Brookvale Avenue in Belfast, was convicted of two counts of arson, being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, and a count of causing criminal damage to a fence on February 9, 2012.

The jury had heard how the emergency services were called to a block of flats, also on Brookvale Avenue, when a fire had been started in the communal hallway of the property.

Tweedie had poured petrol under the doors of the flats and then set it on fire - but he found himself almost trapped and had to burst through the fence of a neighbouring property to escape.

It was there the police found him with a petrol cannister nearby.

Prosecuting lawyer Rosemary Walsh revealed that at the time of the arson, Tweedie had not long been released from jail and was on probation for two other arson offences.

She described to the court how Tweedie had set fire to a van in October 2005 and then in January 2006 had set fire to a vehicle which was then pushed up against a house which caught fire.

Ms Walsh said that as well as his record being an aggravating factor, she submitted that the attack on the Brookvale Avenue properties had been "pre-planned" and no warnings were given to the residents who had been asleep at the time.

Defence lawyer Conor O'Kane told Judge McFarland he had been instructed that another man "who was much more sinister" had been involved in setting the fires but that was dismissed by the judge.

In jailing Tweedie, Judge McFarland told him there had been "absolutely no evidence" about those claims to either the police or the jury and that it was "far too late in the day" to be claiming anyone else was involved.
 

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