Northern Ireland news

Mother tells of horror after lighter fluid poured on son's face and set alight

Padraig Hagans suffered severe burns after lighter fluid was poured on his face and set alight
Marie Louise McConville

A west Belfast mother has told how her teenage son "could have been coming home to me in a coffin" after lighter fluid was poured over his face and set alight, causing horrendous burns.

Mary Hagans said she was left "screaming" when she saw her 18-year-old son Padraig, as she warned other parents about the dangers of such 'pranks'.

The Ballymurphy teenager had been out with friends on Saturday night and gone back to a house at Springfield Park.

Having fallen asleep in a bedroom of the house, the former CBS student - who is due to start a new job with Belfast health trust - woke at around 7am to "the feeling of water running down his face."

Ms Hagans said he realised it was lighter fluid but another man in the room "just lit a lighter and his whole head went on fire".

Her son told her that others in the room laughed as he was "jumping around the room, smacking (his) hands off his head" in an attempt to extinguish the flames.

The mother-of-four said Padraig went to hospital and was later sent home. They then went yesterday to their GP who sent them back to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment and with a referral to see plastic surgeons.

"I feel heartbroken" she said.

"I feel really, really annoyed that someone would do this to him. I just can't describe it. It's a terrible shock to me and my son.

"All he has done is cry, he is so heartbroken. He could have died and they stood and laughed.

"The doctors said it looks as if there is going to be a lot of scarring."

She added: "He is still very, very shaken up. I think he is actually in shock. His whole body is shaking from head to toe. He can't sleep with the pain, it is horrific."

Ms Hagan said she she wants to make other parents aware of what happened.

"Parents need to talk to their children about doing pranks," she said.

"It's not a game. They are all playing with fire and somebody is going to end up hurt or on fire."

Police last night said an 18-year-old man was arrested on Monday afternoon and questioned on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.

He has since been released on bail pending further inquiries.

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