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Ramsay Road fire: Comment regarding the case

 

Let us first say how much we appreciate that this has been difficult for the families of the defendants and are very glad the trial is over so we can all move on. We feel no ill will, and want to put this all behind us.

The Crown’s charges and the jury’s conviction signal that such acts have to be taken seriously. This crime has left us in temporary accommodation, still exiled from our home, after eight months. All of our children’s clothes, toys, drawings and other personal effects since their birth were destroyed. All our clothes and furniture, along with thousands of papers and books essential to our work were permanently damaged or destroyed. More than that, to us this was a crime with potentially deadly consequences. We have been disturbed by the language used by some people discussing the case – ‘high jinks’, ‘pranks,’ ‘Halloween fun’ and so on. When our small children ask why our house was set on fire, these terms do not seem to answer the question. If we had not had a smoke alarm – and alert neighbours – we would all have died.

We hope this case will contribute to a public discussion of firework control. We are concerned that the shop from which the attack firework rocket came engaged in an illegal sale, by selling it to an underage person. Had the age restriction on selling fireworks been observed, or a purchase licence been required, as in Northern Ireland, the event that changed all our lives, victims and perpetrators, would probably not have happened. In many parts of the USA, fireworks are banned to all members of the public and are only legal in officially sanctioned settings. Fireworks do make wonderful spectacles, but they need to be more controlled.

We would like to thank all those who helped us around the time of the fire. The fire brigade, ambulance service and Red Cross were prompt, friendly and efficient. We have been impressed by the quality of police work involved in this case. We were touched at the generosity with which the Headington community rallied round, especially with the many gifts of toys and clothes to our children. Staff at St Andrew’s School and Headington Quarry Nursery were enormously supportive. We look forward to getting back into our house and getting on with our lives.

 

David Norbrook and Sharon Achinstein
Ramsay Road
13 June 2008

© Stephanie Jenkins

 

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