Glasgow & West Scotland

Man who got child to set fire to wife's Airdrie flat jailed

High Court in Glasgow Image copyright PA
Image caption McGuiness pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow

A man who helped a child set fire to his estranged wife's home while she and her two adult daughters slept inside has been jailed for seven years.

Alan McGuiness drove the youngster to Lyn O'Neil 's flat in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, after the former couple had rowed about splitting up.

He gave the child an entry key to the building and waited in his car as the child set fire to the flat door.

Ms O'Neil was woken by the blaze and managed to get her family to safety.

McGuiness, 39, pled guilty to a charge of wilful fire-raising to the danger of others at the High Court in Glasgow.

Flammable material

Judge Lady Rae told him: "This was obviously a planned and pre-meditated act.

"Almost at midnight, you and another - a child - went to the flat.

"It was the child who entered the premises with flammable material and lit it outside the door with no means of escape.

"You endangered their lives and all of the people in the block.

"I do not think looking at you that you are taking this seriously."

The court had heard McGuiness and Ms O'Neil married in February 2017, but split the following April.

Hours before the fire attack on 1 May 2018 , the couple had a "heated" text exchange about the reasons behind their break-up.

Prosecutor Chris McKenna said McGuiness then got in touch with one of Ms O'Neil's adult daughters to see if her mother was at home.

He drove the un-named youngster to the flat and waited outside in his white BMW while the blaze took hold. The child then returned and McGuiness drove off.

Residents evacuated

The court heard Ms O'Neil leapt out of bed after her smoke alarms sounded but was forced back by large flames as she opened her living room door.

The terrified mother screamed at her daughters to get up and rush to the balcony.

She then tried to quell the blaze with wet towels and a fire blanket.

Ms O'Neil eventually dialled 999 before fire crews arrived. All of the other residents in the block had to be evacuated.

A witness later told police she had spotted a car matching McGuiness' BMW at the scene.

Tony Lenehan, defending McGuiness, said there had been "strong emotions" after the split.

The advocate added: "He cannot make sense of what he did."

Lady Rae said the jail term would have been eight years, but for the guilty plea.

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