Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 16:41 UK

Arsonist's screams 'saved family'

Belfast Crown Court
The trial is taking place at Belfast Crown Court

A "vengeful burglar" has gone on trial with an associate accused of trying to burn a doctor and his family to death.

Belfast Crown Court heard the family were only saved by "good luck" when Roy Martin Kerr, 31, set himself alight and screamed in pain, waking the family.

Mr Kerr, from Shore Road, Belfast, and Tanya Diana Holmes, 21, with an address at the Simon Community in Coleraine, went on trial at Belfast Crown Court.

They deny trying to murder Dr Raymond White, his wife and son on 8 May, 2008.

They also deny arson at the doctor's east Belfast home in Kensington Road, the attempted arson of their cars and handling a stolen Ford Focus.

A prosecution lawyer said that Dr White, who died in June, was due to give evidence against Mr Kerr, who two years earlier was also convicted in connection of a burglary at the house.

He told Judge Geoffrey Miller and the jury of eight men and four women that the "case is about what this defendant Roy Kerr and his friend Tanya Holmes did to a normal family living in a residential area or Belfast".

"They tried to kill them by setting fires in the middle of the night around every exit from their home and were preparing also to set alight their cars parked around the house," he said.

The lawyer claimed that "this was not a prank" but "well planned and prepared" and motivated by "revenge or vengence".

He said said both defendants were equally guilty of the joint enterprise.

The Crown lawyer said they were captured on CCTV in a nearby petrol station on the Upper Newtownards Road, where they allegedly bought a plastic petrol container, petrol and a cheap disposable lighter.

The case continues.

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