Deprecated: Function session_register() is deprecated in /home/sites/ on line 88 Sharkey fire deaths: Accused 'made pub blaze threat'
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Sharkey fire deaths: Accused 'made pub blaze threat'

  • 5-31-2013

A man accused of murdering three people in a house fire in Helensburgh threatened to burn down the house of a pub manager, a court has heard.

Claire McMahon, 30, told the High Court in Glasgow that Scott Snowden said in a phone call he would burn her house down with her child in it.

She was unable to say why the alleged threat was not in her police statement.

Mr Snowden and Robert Jennings deny murdering Thomas Sharkey Snr and his two children by torching their home.

Thomas Sharkey Jnr, 21, and his sister, Bridget, eight, died in the blaze at their home in Scott Court, Helensburgh, on 24 July 2011. Their father, Thomas Snr, 55, died in hospital days later.

Pub ban

Both accused also face a charge of attempting to murder Mr Sharkey's wife, Angela, 48, who survived the fire.

Ms McMahon told the court that barmaid Kelly Miller, 25, phoned her at about 17:00 on 11 July 2010 to tell her that Mr Snowden and Michael and Mark Sharkey were in her pub, The Teak and Ash, in Helensburgh, and Mark Sharkey had smashed it up.

Ms McMahon said that Mr Snowden came on the phone and threatened to burn down the pub, and she told him: "Do it it's insured."

She was asked by prosecutor Alex Prentice QC how Mr Snowden replied and said: "He said he would burn my house down with my wean in it."

Ms McMahon, who at the time was the licensee of The Teak and Ash Bar, was asked what her reaction to this was. She replied: "It was a threat."

The witness, who is now a student, said she told her father of the alleged threat made by Mr Snowden and he nailed up the letterbox at her home.

Donald Findlay QC, representing Mr Snowden, later asked Ms McMahon why she had not mentioned the threats to burn down her pub or her house to the police and she said that she had.

She added that she did not know why it had not been noted down.

Last sighting

Earlier in evidence, Ms McMahon told of how she had been at the Ashton Bar on the night before the fire in which Thomas Sharkey Snr and his two children died.

Ms McMahon said she had seen Bridget, who had returned home early from a sleepover, being dropped outside her home at Scott Court, at about 23:00.

She added that she saw her brother Thomas coming down to take her indoors.

Miss McMahon wept as she said: "That was the last time I saw them."

The court heard that they were killed in the fire which started in the early hours of the next morning.

Mr Snowden, 37, and Mr Jennings, 50, have lodged special defences of incrimination and alibi, with Mr Snowden claiming he was in Mexico when the fire at the Sharkey home was allegedly started, while Mr Jennings claims he was home alone in Helensburgh.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2013 BBC

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