A Craigavon couple narrowly escaped with their lives following a Halloween horror home invasion in which an intruder tried to burn them alive.
The incident occurred at around 10pm on Saturday as the pair, both 33, slept in bed at their terraced house in Drumgor Heights. An unlocked back door allowed entry to an unknown individual, who made their way through the house in the darkness and up to the main bedroom, where the couple were slumbering.
Bizarrely, the burglar had lifted a pair of women’s sunglasses from the living room belonging to the female homeowner and put them on, making the moment her partner awoke to find a figure looming in their bedroom doorway even more terrifying.
Upon seeing the male stir and sit up, the intruder made their way back downstairs, stopping at the bottom to set alight a number of clothing items hung on the bottom bannister post.
Unaware of the fire danger, the frightened couple listened to the arsonist’s footsteps as he calmly walked across the wooden floored living room below and shut the back door, exiting the back yard through an unlocked gate leading to an alleyway
As they blearily spoke about how someone had got inside—realising the back door had not been secured earlier in the evening- a flickering light through a window pane above the bedroom door alerted them to the fire. Seconds later smoke alarms went off and they jumped from the bed.
They looked downstairs to see huge flames licking the ceiling, and were forced to edge past the blaze so as not to be trapped upstairs.
Panicking, they rushed to the kitchen and filled Tupperware containers with tap water to douse the fire enough to be able to use a wet garment to beat out the last of the flames before alerting emergency services.
The couple suffered minor smoke inhalation and were left badly shaken by the incident. The five-year-old daughter of the female was at her father’s house at the time, while the brush with death has left the couple vowing to leave their home.
The woman — who does not wish to be named — said: “We can’t believe that someone saw us lying in bed and set the house on fire. It’s attempted murder as far as we’re concerned. I’m just thankful my daughter wasn’t here. It doesn’t bear thinking about. I’ve lived here for 14 years and never had trouble, but having someone try to burn us alive has changed things. We just want to leave now.”
Her partner added: “It was horrifying to wake and realise we weren’t alone in our bedroom. I could make out the figure looking down upon us in bed, and realised he was wearing my girlfriend’s white sunglasses — that’s all I could make out in the gloom. He paused for a few seconds before leaving. About a minute later I spotted the light from the flames downstairs and feared the worst before the smoke alarm confirmed what I was dreading.
“Looking downstairs I saw the blaze and thought we were trapped and going to die. Had we awoke just one minute later, we wouldn’t have been able to squeeze past the rising flames coming up the stairs, or we would have been overcome by smoke.
“It was foolish of us to leave the back door unlocked, but it’s been a hard lesson. I don’t know if the person was on drugs or what. Why put on sunglasses in the dark? They didn’t steal anything else from the house except for those. Yet they saw us in bed and tried to trap us by setting the bottom of the staircase alight. We barely know anyone in the area, and can’t understand what would prompt someone to do that.”
Constable Kevin Crossey said: “I would ask anyone who noticed any suspicious behaviour in the area to contact Lurgan Police Station on the non emergency number 101, quoting reference 1594 311015. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”