‘My guardian an­gel was with me that night’

Sunday Sun - - News -

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.”

SI­MON GREENER

Ar­son vic­tim Lil­lian McEl­fa­trick from Blyth who’s flat was de­stroyed

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