A COUPLE who were turned into human fireballs by masked men pleaded for help seconds after they were doused with petrol and set alight, a court has heard.
Thomas O’Hare and Lisa McClatchey died after their house near the village of Tassagh, Co Armagh was set on fire in November 2006.
Four brothers, Christopher, Martin, Niall and Stephen Smith, are currently on trial for their murders.
Seamus Loughran was at home with his 11-year-old daughter when he heard “a very loud banging” on his front door.
The door was opened by his daughter who then slammed it shut again and ran to him “in hysterics” saying there was somebody at the front door “covered in blood”.
Unsure of what was happening, Mr Loughran initially locked the door.
He came to realise, however, that it was a badly injured Lisa McClatchey who was outside and he began a frantic effort to try to help her.
He described how she had been naked from the waist up, badly injured, but conscious throughout, and able to describe to him how a gang of men had attacked the home.
Mr Loughran said Ms McClatchey’s principal concern had been for Thomas O’Hare. She told him Mr O’Hare was still in the burning house.
She asked Mr Loughran to remove what was left of her jeans as her belt buckle was so hot that it was searing into her.
Mr Loughran did this and wrapped her in a nightgown belonging to his wife.
He spoke to the emergency services by phone, then set off towards the burning house, shouting Mr O’Hare’s name as he went.
He found Mr O’Hare lying by the side of the road. He had been so badly injured that Mr Loughran, who had known him all his life, said he was barely recognisable.
Two other neighbours arrived and they stayed with Mr O’Hare while Mr Loughran went back to his house.
He brought his daughter, who was still hysterical, to a neighbour’s house and then checked on Ms McClatchey. He then ran back to Mr O’Hare with a sheet.
He and a neighbour used the sheet to carry Mr O’Hare back to Mr Loughran’s home.
By this time, more people had arrived, including Mr O’Hare’s sister and niece.
The case continues.