‘My guardian angel was with me that night’
ANGRY pensioner Lilian McElfatrick has told how she hopes a pair of confused arsonists ‘rot in hell’ after they mistakenly set fire to her flat.
Lilian lost everything she owned when jealous Ashley Walker set fire to her ground floor apartment as he tried to target her neighbour.
Confused Walker, with his accomplice Graham Wills, was attempting to torch the home of a man he wrongly believed his former partner was going out with.
But blundering Walker ended up setting the blaze at Lilian’s home instead.
The 71-year-old was not insured and lost all her belongings after the blaze caused £40,000 worth of damage to her flat in Brockwell Court, Newsham, Blyth, Northumberland, on May 15, 2016.
And now she has told how her lifetime of memories went up in smoke when her pictures and belongings were destroyed.
“I hope he (Walker) rots in hell. He could have killed someone,” said mum-of-four Lilian.
“My guardian angel was with me that night. If I had a drink, like I usually do, I might not have woken up and not survived.”
Walker and Wills are now behind bars after they were convicted of arson on Lillian’s flat and torching Walker’s ex’s car.
But Lilian says she is still suffering from her ordeal.
“I can’t sleep and I still have nightmares. I’m forever checking the door to see if it is locked. It has been 18 months and I’m getting a bit better now but I can’t get it out of my mind what I have lost,” added Lilian, who has nine grandchildren and one granddaughter.
“Everything went, all my furniture, everything was destroyed by flames or smoke I’m upset at losing all my pictures that I had built up over the years of the kids and my brother from decades ago. I can never replace them. Yes I am alive, but I lost everything.
“I wasn’t insured and I had to get everything again, it has cost me lots of money. The community was wonderful, they collected for me and I got over £1,000 from the local ladies darts team, the pubs and others. It restored my faith in human nature, they were great.”
Lilian’s nightmare started when she was woken by the fire.
“I heard a mini explosion at the back door,” said Lilian, who had been in her flat for around five years. “I got up and saw my back door was alight, then all of a sudden the flames just gushed in. Thick black smoke filled my flat and my fire alarm went off. I was frightened, terrified, and ran out the front door. I was shaking and crying and everyone was out in the street. I was lucky to wake up, God was watching over me.”
Lilian, who suffers from osteoporosis and arthritis, has been rehoused to an upstairs flat and is hoping to get a ground floor flat as she finds it hard climbing stairs.
“I loved my other flat, I had a front and back garden and was very happy there. I’ve tried to make this one like that one but I dread the fact of having to move again.”
Arson victim Lillian McElfatrick from Blyth who’s flat was destroyed