Grandmother on arson bid charge



A grandmother accused of trying to set a filling station on fire claimed she was going to “blow this place up”, the High Court heard yesterday.

Caroline Irwin was seen holding a petrol pump while attempting to get a flame on her lighter, prosecutors alleged. A judge was told she also warned witnesses to get their children away from the scene in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh.

Irwin, a 46-year-old Omagh woman of no fixed address, faces charges of attempted arson endangering life, disorderly behaviour and attempted criminal damage.

Adjourning her application for bail, Mr Justice Weir said the situation was currently too dangerous to consider releasing her.

She is alleged to have gone to a supermarket and filling station on Main Street in the town on December 1 following two previous incidents. Prosecution barrister Conor Maguire claimed she was seen trying to set the pump alight using a lighter and cigarette. “Witnesses said she was shouting abusively at members of the public and staff, and shouted: ‘I’m going to blow this place up’,” he told the court. “At the time she was standing with a petrol pump in her hand and was trying to light a flame with her lighter.”

Irwin had been drinking when she allegedly acted while some youngsters were present, Mr Maguire said.

He added: “Witnesses also state that she shouted: ‘Get your children away, I’m blowing this place up’.”

According to the defence, however, CCTV footage will exonerate Irwin.

Her barrister, Michael Ward, argued: “There’s an issue about whether there had been an attempt to light it, or whether this was simply a cry for help.”

Mr Justice Weir stressed that he did not want to keep Irwin in custody. But he said: “Minor excessive behaviour is one thing, but going around a petrol filling station with a naked flame is quite another.”

The judge adjourned the hearing for a psychiatric report and proposals on possible hostel accommodation to be prepared.


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