Northern Ireland

Woman who set fire to house while daughter and aunt inside remanded into custody

Crystal Slavin set fire to clothes in kitchen, court hears

The woman appeared before Coleraine Magistrates Court on Thursday

An Antrim woman was remanded into custody on Monday accused of setting fire to her own home while he daughter and aunt were inside.

Appearing at Ballymena Magistrates Court by videolink from police custody, 40-year-old Crystal Slavin was charged with a single offence of arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered on May 25.

A police officer, who said he believed he could connect Slavin to the charge, told the court how the defendant had contacted the police on Saturday afternoon to report “that she had set her house on fire.”

She had already alerted the fire brigade and when police arrived at the house mid terrace house in Tobergill Gardens.

Slavin told them she had removed clothes from the tumble drier, “poured oil on them and set them on fire” in the kitchen area.

At the time, the defendant’s 11-year-old daughter was in the living room watching TV while her 66-year-old aunt had been asleep upstairs.

The officer said Slavin had awoken her aunt and spoke to her but according to the pensioner, Slavin had been incomprehensible and it was only when she went downstairs to make a cup of tea that she saw the clothes on fire.

“She tried to remove as much as she cold but she had to leave the room as the smoke was too much,” said the officer adding that Slavin’s two other children had been outside playing at the time.

Arrested and interviewed Slavin claimed her mental health had deteriorated since October 2022 when she was robbed and slashed with a knife in her home, telling police that “she didn’t want the house any more.”

Objecting to bail the officer said police were concerned that Slavin “poses a significant risk to herself and others should she decide to start another fire.”

Defence solicitor Andrew Kinney told the court the incident in October 2022, for which no one has been arrested or charged, “had a devastating effect on her” and there had been an incident on Friday when Slavin heard a male voice similar to one of her assailants and that had triggered “what appears to be a total one off.”

District Judge Nigel Broderick said while he was “not entirely unsympathetic” to granting bail, “I’m concerned about how to manage the risk.”

Marking the bail application as refused, the judge repeated again that “I want to make it clear to the defendant that I’m not totally unsympathetic to bail” but there would need to be a support package in place.

Slavin was remanded into custody until June 4.