Northern Ireland

McElhill fire murder house to be demolished

The charred shell of Lammy Crescent where the family-of-seven died
Image caption The charred shell of Lammy Crescent where the family-of-seven died

The house where a convicted sex offender burnt his partner and five children to death is to be demolished.

Arthur McElhill killed his family in a house fire in Omagh, County Tyrone in 2007, because his partner, Lorraine McGovern threatened to leave.

The subsequent inquest heard a phone call made by Lorraine's daughter, Caroline, 13, in which she pleaded for help from her burning home.

Now the boarded-up property at Lammy Crescent is to be demolished.

The shell of the house was a grim reminder of what happened to Lorraine, Caroline, Sean, 7, Bellina, 4, Clodagh ,19 months and James, who was nine months old.

It was a tragedy that shocked people across Northern Ireland.

Arthur McElhill had been having sex with a 16-year-old girl in the weeks before the fire.

The coroner at the inquest concluded that Ms McGovern was likely to be in the process of leaving him and this, coupled with his fear of facing prison because of his illicit relationship, contributed to him starting the fire.

Image caption All of the family died in the fire at Lammy Crescent

The inquest also heard of McElhill's previous suicide attempts and his use of a Bebo social-networking account in his son's name to groom teenage girls for sex.

It also heard he had two previous convictions for rape.

After sensitive negotiations between the families, local residents and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the executive has now agreed to buy the house and demolish it.

Local councillor Sean Begley said it was "a welcome resolution".

The demolition is expected to happen in the next fortnight and the Housing Executive said it would work with local residents to decide what would happen with the cleared site.