Heartache ... Peter and Julie Muldoon contemplate the charred remains of their shed.
Heartache ... Peter and Julie Muldoon contemplate the charred remains of their shed.

Wake in fright

By CRAIG McTEAR

JULIE and Peter Muldoon would dearly love to get their hands on the arsonists who knifed them in the heart last Wednesday.

They'd like to show them what's left of the brick shed they broke into and torched, destroying many of their cherished possessions to the tune of $70,000.

They'd also like to tell them how they feared the flames would also engulf their home.

"It's the most horrifying thing I've ever been through," Julie said.

The Sawtell couple were in bed when Julie heard an explosion at 12.30am. She initially thought it was firecrackers, a not unusual occurrence in her Dillon Street neighbourhood.

"I didn't think it was my backyard," she said.

"I said to Peter 'did you hear that'. He walked out onto our balcony and he said 'Jesus Christ, it's us'.

"I ran onto the balcony and there was a trail of fire coming out of the shed."

As firefighters were mobilised, Peter ran downstairs and out to the blaze with a fire extinguisher, and was amazed with the job it did.

"For half a second I thought I had it out. I thought afterwards 'if only I'd had another two or three extinguishers'," he said.

He used a hose to stop the flames claiming another shed, but burnt his hand when he discovered the seat of his nearby runabout was on fire.

His efforts are all the more remarkable considering his shed housed gas cylinders.

Peter is a carpenter by trade and a TAFE teacher who has spent a lifetime collecting his tools and timber.

He lost all of them that morning.

Magnificent slabs of red cedar and coachwood which Peter wanted to fashion into kitchen tables have been reduced to nothing, along with his woodworking machinery.

"That's what really hurts. That's my retirement. I thought I was helping people out," Peter said.

"It just destroys you."

There's also nothing left of the couple's spa and a Mazda utility which the intruders apparently tried to steal when they busted their way in.

They drove a shovel into the steering wheel to try and break the steering lock and it appears when they were foiled they set the shed alight. An accelerant may have been used.

Police believe the incident is linked to a break-in on a neighbouring property about the same time. Also, a resident reported seeing suspicious activity in nearby 18th Avenue.

If the cloud hanging over the Muldoons has a silver lining, it's this ? their insurer has pledged to replace all they've lost.

If you can help with the police investigation, contact Coffs Harbour detectives on 6652 0299.



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