Man tells inquest he had arson warning


A man whose five-year-old daughter died in a fire at his home in Boyle, Co Roscommon, told an inquest yesterday he had been warned in advance that an arson attack was to take place but he did not take the threat seriously.

Richard Connolly (27), Termon Road, managed to save himself and two of his daughters, Lauren (8) and Naomi (7), when their home was engulfed in flames in the early hours of October 3rd, 2011.

But Mari Keane Connolly lost her life in the blaze and her body was discovered by firemen some time later.

At an inquest yesterday in Ballaghaderreen, conducted by Roscommon coroner Desmond O’Connor, it was explained that the victim’s mother, Teresa Keane, was in hospital at the time of the fire, giving birth to twins.

It was outlined that John Lynch (33) of Church View had been sentenced at the Circuit Criminal Court in Roscommon this year to eight years in prison for arson with intent to endanger life and eight years for causing serious harm to Mr Connolly.

In a statement read to yesterday’s inquest by Insp Declan Rock, Mr Connolly said he was in London with his daughter Lauren on August 17th, 2011, when he received a phone call from a man who told him Mr Lynch had told him he was going to burn the Connolly home.

“I did not take the threat seriously,” Mr Connolly said.

Outlining his experience on the night of the fire, Mr Connolly said he awoke to a loud bang downstairs at 2.30am and was confronted at the door of the bedroom by smoke and flames.

The witness said he got his three daughters out a window on to a roof and got himself to the ground. Two of the girls jumped to safety but he could not get Mari down as she was afraid. In the attempt to escape, Mr Connolly said, he suffered severe spinal injuries, was paralysed and could not move.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber, who carried out a postmortem, gave evidence of “a lethal level” of carbon monoxide at 59.3 per cent in the victim’s body. Children were very susceptible to carbon monoxide, even levels as low as 10 to 15 per cent.

An inquest jury returned an open verdict.

Expressing sympathy to the family and relatives, the coroner said it was especially tragic the joy of the mother in giving birth to twins should be clouded by such a tragedy.