Man whose sons' skulls were stolen from their graves in suspected travellers' feud left 'engulfed in flames' after being set on fire in attack

Daniel McCardle
Daniel McCardle

A man who set fire to the father of two teenage boys whose skulls were stolen from their graves in a suspected feud between travelling families has been jailed for ten years.

Daniel McCardle poured petrol into Sailus Price's home through the living room window, which had been smashed by an accomplice, before throwing a flaming rag at him.

The 71-year-old, who was engulfed in flames from his waist to his head, suffered burns to 30% of his body and permanent scarring.

He was doused in water by his family as the fire spread through their home in Ferryhill, County Durham.

The offences are understood to be connected to a feud between travelling families in County Durham.

The feud has seen the skulls of Mr Price's sons dug up and stolen from their grave in the cemetery in Metal Bridge, near Ferryhill, in November 2015.

The grave was the resting place of his son's Levi and Gareth Price.

They both took their lives at the age of 16, Levi in 2001 and Gareth in 2005.

Those responsible for digging up the skulls have never been caught, and there is no suggestion McCardle was involved in that offence.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how 28-year-old McCardle had been travelling in a Ford Mondeo car with two other men when they launched the attack on the victim's home at around 10.30pm on July 29.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, told the court how the car pulled up outside Mr Price's address before an unidentified male passenger got out, ran towards the address and smashed the living room window by throwing a brick through it.

Both Mr Price and his wife were in the living room at the time.

McCardle then poured a liquid accelerant through the window into the living room.

Mr Perks said: "The complainant Sailus Price, to prevent the actions of the defendant, attempted to push the container back away from the window.

"He continued to shake the liquid into the address and covered the complaint with the liquid."

Mr Perks said McCardle then moved back a safe distance before throwing a lit rag into the property towards Mr Price as he stood in the window.

This caused an explosion and Mr Price's clothes disintegrated as he was engulfed in flames.

The court heard how his wife described seeing him on fire from his waist to his head.

His family tried desperately to use water from the shower to put the flames out but it stopped working as a result of the fire.

Neighbours rushed to assist Mr Price and tried to help put the fire out in his house.

Mr Price was taken to the critical care unit at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary with burns to 30% of his body and placed in an induced coma.

Mr Perks said: "His wife was told to prepare for the worst."

The court heard how McCardle and his accomplices got back into the car away drove away from the scene.

McCardle was arrested after a officer from Northumbria Police recognised him on Mr Price's CCTV footage.

McCardle, of Coxon Street, Sunderland, admitted causing GBH with intent and arson with intent to endanger life.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Price said: "I'm in constant pain and to take one to 30 tablets a day and take liquid morphine for the pain.

"Thinking how can someone do this to you constantly plays on my mind. I wouldn't do this to an animal let alone a person.

"My wife has to bath me and dress me daily. My injuries are so bad I can't do anything for myself.

"I wish we could go back to our lives and our home but we will always be looking over our shoulders at what may happen."

The court heard how the Price family were forced to leave their bungalow following the fire as it was left inhabitable.

The cost to repair the property was £140,000.

Chris Knox, defending, told the court: "The defendant regrets that he got involved in this at all.

"He understands now what a dreadful situation he's put these people in and what a dreadful situation he's put himself in.

"It's not clear what the background to all this is."

The Recorder of Newcastle, Judge Paul Sloan QC, told McCardle: "At the time there was some quarrel with the Price family.

"The three of you were intent on firebombing Mr and Mrs Prince's address. This was a planned, premeditated offence.

"This is extremely serious offending, truly dreadful crimes, and only very substantial terms in imprisonment can be justified."