Helensburgh fire: Mother ‘wishes she hadn’t slept’

Angela Sharkey wept as she gave evidence in court. Picture: PA
Angela Sharkey wept as she gave evidence in court. Picture: PA
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A WOMAN who survived a blaze that killed her husband and two children has said she wished she had never gone to sleep the night they died.

Angela Sharkey, 48, was seriously hurt in the early-morning fire at her home in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, in July 2011.

Bridget and Thomas Sharkey. Picture: PA

Bridget and Thomas Sharkey. Picture: PA

Her children, Thomas jnr, 21, and Bridget, eight, were killed and their father, Thomas snr, 55, died six days later in Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

At the High Court in Glasgow yesterday, Mrs Sharkey said the last thing she remembered was reading a book in bed. Her children were “sound asleep” and her husband was at the pub, she said.

Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, asked her: “At some point [while reading] did you fall asleep?” She replied: “Yes. I wish I hadn’t.”

Mr Prentice asked: “What is your next memory?” She replied: “The Royal Infirmary. I saw I was in hospital. I didn’t know how long exactly [I had been there].

“My family have told me they never thought I was going to survive. I was burnt. I was covered in bandages. I have a skin graft from my left leg to my right arm.”

She added: “[I was told] that both my children were dead. My husband was gravely ill, as I was. I was the only one that survived.”

She was giving evidence at the trial of Scott Snowden and Robert Jennings, who are accused of deliberately starting the fire and murdering her family. Mr Prentice went on to ask Mrs Sharkey: “Today is the 10th of May, is that a significant date to you?” She wiped away tears as she replied: “Yes, my son would have been 23 today.”

Under cross-examination by Donald Findlay, QC, representing Snowden, Mrs Sharkey was asked if she was aware her late husband had been a drug dealer. She said if he had been, she had not known about it.

She told the court he was sentenced to four years in prison in the mid-1990s for drugs offences but that he was “set up” by someone who arranged for cannabis plants to be delivered to their home – moments before police arrived and seized the drugs.

Ian Duguid, QC, defending Jennings, put it to her that Mr Sharkey’s nickname of “T-Bags” stood for “Tenner Bags Tommy”, which, the lawyer suggested, related to bags of heroin. Mrs Sharkey rejected the suggestion.

She told jurors £4,180 had been found in a drawer at their house after her husband’s death, but she said she did not know where it had come from.

Snowden, 37, and Jennings, 50, are alleged to have poured petrol, or something similar, through the letterbox of the only door allowing access to the house during the early hours of 24 July, 2011. It was then set alight as the four occupants slept, according to prosecutors.

Between them, they face a total of 22 charges, including murder and attempted murder, all of which they deny.

Both have lodged special defences of incrimination and alibi, with Snowden claiming he was in Mexico at the time of the fire and Jennings saying he was home alone in Helensburgh.

The trial continues.


Two on trial for Sharkey family house fire murder