Firework yobs besiege widow

A FAMILY today described how a gang of firework-throwing yobs lay siege to a widow's home.

Around 30 youths chanted foul abuse at Mandy Gray about her dead husband and lobbed fireworks at her family in what has become a ritual bonfire night siege on her home.

Fire crews were called out to 165 bonfire related incidents across the city last night on the busiest shift of the year. Fire control dealt with 375 calls in total.

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On one call to an unsupervised bonfire in West Pilton Crescent, firefighters found themselves under attack when youths started hurling rocks and fireworks.

Mrs Gray, whose 47-year-old husband Frank died of cancer three weeks before bonfire night 2007, has been left alone to care for her autistic son Christopher, 25, in their home at Meadowfield Drive. Last year, the 42-year-old had her windows smashed for daring to challenge the youths.

In a chilling warning, one member of the gang allegedly approached her a month ago and promised to "torch her home" this year.

Fearing the worst, Mrs Gray gathered her extended family around her. It is the fourth year in a row she's been targeted.

Mandy's youngest son Jamie, 22, an insurance administrator who now lives in Northfield, attended with his uncles John and Mark Armstrong.

Jamie said: "They came down shouting, 'We're glad Frankie's dead', as well as other unmentionable things, and threatening to burn the house down.

"My dad died over a year ago and I'm past the grieving stage, so the first thought on my mind was protecting my mum. I heard one of them saying, 'Let's get in there and torch the place before the police arrive', and that's when the fireworks started flying."

One firework was thrown at Mark's head, missing him by less than a foot. Mark, a 37-year-old bar manager from Gorgie, said: "It hit a glass pane in the doorway where I was standing and exploded. I'm just glad it didn't hit me."

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When The News arrived last night police were already on the scene.

Mrs Gray told police that three cars, reportedly carrying further gang members, had been ominously circling her home all evening.

The rest of the gang that allegedly carried our the firework attacks were also still lurking on the hill in Meadowfield Park, overlooking Mrs Gray's home.

When our reporting team approached the gang a firework was launched in our direction amid a torrent of further abuse, and the gang retreated further into the park. At this point, two female police officers entered the park and the gang dispersed.

However, Mrs Gray's family vowed to remain at her home well into the night.

Police said enquiries into the incident are ongoing.