Belfast Telegraph

Blind Co Down man's lucky escape after arsonists torch his pigeon loft

David Hanley beside the ruins of his shed
David Hanley beside the ruins of his shed

By Lauren Harte

A blind and disabled Co Down man escaped injury after an early morning arson attack at his home.

David Hanley (34), from Balloo Road in Bangor, said he was distraught after a wooden shed was set alight in the back garden of his semi-detached bungalow early yesterday morning.

The shed housed seven pigeons, which he fears may all have died.

The fire is believed to have been started after 5am.

He was alerted by a neighbour.

Mr Hanley, who has lived alone at the property for 13 years with his guide dog, said: "I was asleep in my wheelchair with the dog on my lap when there was a rap at the door to say that the shed was on fire.

"The dog went mad and it was fortunate that she wasn't asleep outside or she could have been killed. The shed is totally gone and at this stage I'm afraid that it looks as though all seven of my pigeons have died.

"I can only hope that one or two may have escaped unharmed. The whole garden is a mess and trees that I had planted have all been destroyed. It's very upsetting."

Mr Hanley says he won't be leaving, adding: "I have no idea what the motive behind this attack is, but I won't be deterred or moving from my home.

"I certainly won't allow something like this to close this chapter of my life."

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said it had received a call at 6.07am yesterday.

"Two appliances from Bangor Fire Station attended the scene. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the fire," it said.

"There are no reports of any rescues or casualties.

"The incident was dealt with at 6.59am."

The PSNI said: "Detectives are working to establish the cause of this fire and are appealing to anyone who has information that could assist their investigation, or who saw any suspicious activity in the area early this morning, to get in touch on 101, quoting reference number 206 of February 22."

The incident comes just 10 months after Mr Hanley was left distraught after losing his constant companion, a pet parrot.

The African Red - bright green in colour with a red head and called Flake - is still missing.

Mr Hanley believes the bird was taken by a collector or stolen to order.

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