Woman found guilty of Rathcoole arson

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A 41-year-old Co Antrim woman has been warned she faces jail after she was found guilty of setting fire to the home of a man she met via a social networking website.

Alison Greer, from Hillside View in Newtownabbey, faced a single count of arson endangering life following a fire at a property in Knockane Way in Rathcoole.

Greer denied setting fire to the home in the early hours of July 10 last year and claimed that when the property was targeted she was at home with her son.

However, following a short trial held at Belfast Crown Court, the jury of six men and six women found her unanimously guilty on a charge of arson with intent.

During the trial, the jury heard that Greer met the man on a social media website called Badoo, and that prior to the incident last summer, they had a non-romantic relationship that lasted for a short time.

The friendship, the court heard, came to an end, but they met and had lunch on the afternoon of July 9 – the day before the arson attack. During lunch, the man told Greer he was moving into the house at Knockane Way, and she dropped him off at the property after lunch as he wanted to get the house ready for moving in the following day.

The man went back to Greer’s house later that evening, but the Crown say that at that stage the man claimed Greer was drunk, which prompted him to leave.

At around 5am the following morning he received a call informing him his new home had been set on fire. A neighbour later told police she saw a woman fitting Greer’s description drive to the property, fiddle at the front door with a plastic bag then leave. Moments later, she heard a smoke alarm.

Greer’s barrister Sean Mullan told the court that while the woman gave an eye witness account, she was not able to identify Greer and did not pick her out in a subsequent police ‘viper’ identification process.

He also pointed out there was no physical evidence – such as fingerprints or footprints – to place Greer at the scene.

However, the jury disregarded Greer’s version of events and claims of innocence and found her guilty of arson.

Following the verdict, Judge Gordon Kerr agreed to release Greer on bail to allow her to put her affairs in order, visit her GP regarding her mental health issues and to allow for the preparation of several reports.

Greer will be sentenced on Wednesday August 12.