Arson killings `revenge attacks'

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The Independent Online
THREE YOUNG brothers who died in an arson attack at a time of high tension over an Orange March in Northern Ireland were murdered because of a grudge against their family, a court was told yesterday.

Amid violence last year during an Orange Order stand-off at Drumcree, Jason Quinn, 9, Mark, 10 and Richard, 11, died after a petrol bomb was thrown into their home at Ballymoney, Co Antrim, as they slept. They died struggling to reach their mother's bedroom.

Gordon Kerr QC, for the prosecution, told Belfast Crown Court, sitting in Coleraine, that one of the men responsible was Thomas Gilmour, 24, who had a grievance against the family, and in particular against the boys' uncle, Colum Quinn. Mr Gilmour was said to have driven two other men to the house on 12 July knowing they intended to attack it. The Quinns were one of just a few Catholic families living on the mainly Protestant Carnany estate.

The boys' mother, Christine, her boyfriend, Raymond Craig, and a teenage friend, Christina Archibald, had to leap from windows to save themselves. The court was told Mrs Quinn woke to hear her sons shouting: "Mummy, smoke". She couldn't find them because of the density of the fumes.

Mr Gilmour, a salesman, from Ballymoney, denies three charges of murder, three of attempted murder and two of arson. The trial continues.