Woman (84) accused of endangering lives of residents in alleged Bangor arson incident said to police: 'Why don't you go and catch the IRA?'

Woman (84) accused of endangering lives of residents in alleged Bangor arson incident said to police: 'Why don't you go and catch the IRA?'

AN 84-year-old woman accused of endangering lives at her apartment block in Bangor by allegedly deliberately starting a fire in a microwave said to police when arrested: "Why don't you go and catch the IRA?"

Joyce Evans, of Dufferin Square in the town, is accused of arson endangering life with intent by damaging property at Dufferin Square belonging to Choice Housing.

The defendant did not appear on video link from Belfast after Downpatrick Magistrates Court heard there were 'staffing issues'.

Objecting to bail, a policewoman said on Sunday October 10 police were contacted by the Fire Service regarding a fire at a flat at a four-storey building containing eight flats and housing "vulnerable" people at Dufferin Square, Bangor.

She said a neighbour smelt smoke and called the Fire Service.

The police officer said firefighters noted a microwave had caught fire after being filled with items including rubbish; being wrapped in a blanket and turned on at full power for the maximum time on the clock.

Firefighters put the fire out and there was smoke damage to the kitchen area.

The defendant had "barricaded" herself into her bedroom and when ambulance staff checked her she did not need to attend hospital.

When cautioned, the defendant said to police: "Why don't you go and catch the IRA?"

Police objected to bail believing the defendant was a risk to herself and a risk to public.

The officer said the defendant had been arrested for "similar offences" in 2019.

In April this year, the officer said, the defendant was remanded and served a sentence and was released on September 3 this year.

The PSNI woman added: "Police obviously appreciate this is far from ideal. There is no place for Joyce to go that police can monitor her".

She said the defendant suffers from a range of physical and mental health problems including "schizophrenia and a personality disorder".

A defence lawyer said the defendant had "complex health needs" and social services had tried to obtain care home accommodation.

He said in 2019 she was charged with arson endangering life and then in April last year she was also charged with arson and although she had been granted bail she remained in custody from April to September as an address could not be obtained and eventually received a nine months jail sentence.

District Judge Amanda Brady said it was a "very difficult situation" but taking into account the defendant's age and "mental health" she was granting bail in the sum of £200 to an address "approved by police and social services".

The case was adjourned to Newtownards Magistrates Court on October 20.

  • Main picture: Fire Service were called to an incident at Dufferin Square in Bangor. Picture: Google Maps.