Belfast Telegraph

Victim’s brother makes appeal for information

by Natalie Irvine

The brother of the Newtownards woman who is fighting for her life after an arson attack 10 days ago, has spoken out about the agonising aftermath of the blaze as he appeals to his local community to come forward with any information they may hold — “so this tragedy can’t happen again”.

Zara Gibson, a 21 year old mother of one, remains in a critical condition at the Royal Victoria Hospital after incurring 28 per cent burns to her body from opening the front door of her boyfriend’s Bristol Park apartment to a raging inferno during the early hours of Sunday morning (November 7).

Her older brother, Gareth Gibson, updates the Community Telegraph on her condition and explains the traumatic repercussions this has had on the Gibson’s family life.

Mr Gibson said: “It’s still touch and go for Zara. Last Thursday (November 11) we were told there was a 50/50 chance that her condition could either improve or deteriorate. She developed an infection soon after she was admitted to hospital. Your skin is the main barrier to infection and the skin on Zara’s face and upper body is so badly damaged — she is so vulnerable right now to infections and she has no protection on her face as far as I can see.

“We have been told she might need skin grafts along the inside of her arms. Thankfully she will not need any on her face, but her face is badly damaged — I can hardly recognise her. However it is the damage done to her chest and lungs that is the doctors’ main concern.

“She is unconscious, doctors are keeping her that way as it would be too painful for her otherwise. Though she has also suffered injuries to her ankles and back from jumping from the first story window to escape, she is too ill to get X-rayed and receive the required treatment for them at this time.

“I head up to the hospital on a daily basis to visit her; it’s hard for me to see her in this condition, but I have to for all our sakes.”

He continued: “This is very hard on her six year old son too. He is staying with us and we have told him mummy has broken her leg — we can’t tell him the truth for obvious reasons, he’s much too young. Zara is a single parent and so he is understandably very close to her. Zara only stayed over at her boyfriend’s house one night a week — she looked after her son 24/7, she’s a fantastic mother.

“Our mother is an emotional wreck with this all – she had a major operation just before this attack and is unable to come to the hospital to visit her daughter because of the risk of infection to Zara. My Mum doesn’t know what to do and she is not well herself.

“This has come as such a shock to the family and we are just living day by day with this. As a family, we are appealing to the local community for information.”

Mr Gibson added: “From what I have heard, this sounds like a random attack on the block of flats, not an attack on anyone in particular. It is frightening that someone or some people could do this in such a mindless way.

“I have a feeling it may have been someone from the local community — it could have been a joke that went wrong, I honestly don’t know. We just don’t want another family to go through what we have gone through.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph