‘What have I done?’ asks arson target

By Evan Short

An Ardoyne man who believes he has been made the victim of a vicious vendetta has pleaded with his attackers to make clear their issue with him after the latest in a series of arson incidents.

John ‘Tut’ McLaughlin has spoken  out after his car was torched on Monday night, just seven months after his last car was gutted in a blaze. Both attacks are being treated by the PSNI as suspicious.

Mr McLaughlin says he has no idea whay he is being targeted but that two attacks in seven months is “too much of a coincidence” and he has appealed to his attackers to make known their issue.

“The first time it happened I thought it might have been vandalism but two cars in seven months is too much of a coincidence,” said the 56-year-old.

“Have I been lumbered as a drug dealer or is it jealousy? I don’t know, but I am willing to talk to these people to find out what is going on.”

John has only returned to live in the north in the past few years having spent 20 years in San Francisco. He said the last two arson attacks had now cost him almost £10,000.

“It eats away at you. Up to now with the two cars and what was in them, it has cost around £9,000 in damage. The insurance company aren’t happy – they suggested I move house but I don’t want to do that.

“I keep myself to myself. I own a couple of horses and that’s where I spend my time. I go for a pint in Kelly’s Cellars sometimes but that’s it.”

His love of horses has made the attacks even more costly.

“When they burned out my Mercedes in July it had a horse blanket and two saddles in the boot. They were totally destroyed and that stuff isn’t cheap – the horse blanket was £200.”

John replaced his 12-year-old Mercedes with a Volkswagen Beetle and says he is “distraught” that that has now been destroyed.

“I was in the house about 1am on Monday (January 27) and I heard a loud bang. When I got out I couldn’t believe it had happened again. They had set the front wheel on fire and then the rest of the car went up.”

John’s mother – Vaunie McKinney – is in a nursing home and he needs the car to visit her.

“I do wee messages for her and would be running back and forth to the nursing home so I need the car. I don’t know what to do now.”

A PSNI spokesman confirmed they were investigating the attack and appealed for information.

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