A disabled man and his wife, whose car was burned out in an apparently motiveless weekend attack, no longer feel safe in their Banbridge home.
The two, who did not want to be named, awoke in the early hours of Saturday morning to find their Citroen Berlingo van ablaze in a roadside layby at Primrose Gardens.
It was in a way, they said, a stroke of luck, for the vehicle would typically have been parked in their driveway.
“If it had have been parked in the drive as usual,” the woman said, “the chances are the whole house would have gone up.”
As it was, the vehicle was destroyed, leaving its disabled owner effectively housebound until a replacement can be arranged, and of even greater loss were the car’s contents, including “thousands of pounds worth” of fishing gear, competition prizes, a purse and family photographs of great sentimental value.
The woman explained how her husband became aware of the fire at just after 3am on Saturday. “I don’t know what woke him,” she said, “whether it was just instinct, or maybe he heard something, but when he looked out he could see the flames at the passenger side wheel.
“We called the Fire Brigade, but by the time they arrived the car was already gone.
“My husband went out with the keys to try and save some of our things, but he couldn’t get the door open.”
Clearly traumatised by the attack, the woman said friends had rallied round in support, but it was hard to feel safe.
“I hardly know what day of the week it is,” she said. “Every day and night now you’re sat there listening for every wee noise, every car that goes past; it’s like you can’t trust anyone you see.”
Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson condemned what she called “this reckless attack”.
She said: “Thankfully no one was hurt, but no family should have to wake up to this and the fear and uncertainty as to why they have been targeted.
“This incident is deeply worrying; Banbridge is a close-knit community and this has sent ripples of fear throughout the community. I would ask anyone who may have any information about this incident or who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the Primrose Gardens area to contact PSNI to assist with their enquiries.”
Police themselves appealed for information.
Sergeant Nicholas Woods said: “I would appeal to anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area around the time of the incident, or anyone who may have information that could assist in our investigation, to call 101 quoting reference 200 of 16th July.
“Alternatively, information can be given anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”