INVESTIGATIONS are ongoing into suspected arson attacks at Jim Derwin’s Athlone stables following four separate incidents of fires on his property, the latest taking place yesterday (Friday) morning.
A spokesperson for the Garda Press Office told The Irish Field: “Gardaí are investigating a suspected criminal damage by fire incident that occurred at approximately 6am on Friday, 16th September, 2022, at a shed in the Fardrum area of Athlone, Co Westmeath. No injuries were reported during the course of this incident. However, there was extensive damage to the building. Local fire services also attended the scene in order to extinguish the fire. The scene is currently preserved for technical examination. Investigations into this matter are ongoing.”
Derwin first outlined the incidents on social media earlier this week before telling The Irish Field on Friday that he had been targeted a fourth time. “I have had over 1,200 bales burnt, three big sheds, one of them last night, and a two-horse lorry. It is dangerous and vicious attacks,” the Athlone-based dealer said, adding that his wife and four young children were sleeping just 20 yards away from one of the fires.
The first incident happened on July 10th when two sheds, one belonging to Derwin’s mother, was burned. On July 11th, another shed and 800 bales were burned, before a Theault two-horse lorry worth €100,000 was set alight on August 20th. No animals were harmed in any of the blazes but two horses were rescued from one burning shed.
“I have a lot of good horses here and this is just no good. I have to keep going with business as usual, but there has been some destruction done now, it is terrible,” said Jim Derwin.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the incident to come forward and are also appealing to any persons travelling on the Moate to Athlone Road between 5:30am and 6am on September 16th who observed any activity which drew their attention to contact them. Any road users who may have camera footage (including dash-cam) and were travelling on the Moate to Athlone Road between 5:30am and 6am are asked to make this footage available to investigating Gardaí.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Athlone Garda Station on 090 6492600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.