A Gasparillo woman allegedly locked her 21-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son inside a room in her house before setting it on fire yesterday.
Fortunately, the siblings escaped through a window without serious injury, while a neighbour was able to extinguish the flames at the house on Dalloo Road.
After leaving the house, the mother went to the Gasparillo Police Station and admitted that she doused her daughter’s bedroom with gas.
The woman, her two daughters and her 10-year-old son live at the house but no one was at home when Guardian Media visited yesterday.
Her daughter told police that around 7.55 am, she was in her bedroom with her brother, a pupil of Gasparillo Hindu School, when she had an argument with her mother, who told her to leave the house.
She told police her mother hit her on her hand, picked up a gas container, poured gas on her and her bed and set the bed ablaze.
Her mother, she claimed, then ran out of the room and locked it. The daughter broke a window in the bedroom through which she and her brother escaped.
Meanwhile, the mother, 46, a paralegal, got to the station around 8.20 am.
The woman reported that she had an argument with her daughter and she told her to get out of the house. But she said her daughter refused to leave.
The mother allegedly told the officers that during the argument, she sprinkled gas on her daughter’s bed and around the room and told her she would burn down the house if they couldn’t live in peace.
The woman claimed she then changed her clothing and headed for the police station.
Guardian Media spoke with Kerwin Smart, a neighbour who tried to help the siblings yesterday.
Smart had gone to a parlour around 8 am before heading out to work when he saw the smoke coming from the house.
“I was by the shop and I saw smoke coming from the thing of the house and I end up telling one of the neighbour smoke coming from the neighbour house. He say the woman just gone to work. I say like she leave a pot on the stove.”
He initially thought about going to look for her in his car to let her know her house was on fire and bring her back but decided against this.
While trying to assess the situation, Smart saw the 21-year-old daughter, who was crying, and her brother coming from the back of the house.
“I saw the young lady and the small man came out here and she was holding her hand, clutching it with blood dripping with a piece of cloth,” he added.
Smart said she told him that her mother had chopped her.
“The statement she give the police is that the (relative) lock the room, throw gas on her, throw gas on the bed, throw a napkin or something onto the mattress where she and she little brother was on the bed there and lock the door and gone.”
Smart used a hose to out the blaze before it could spread.
“It sad and shocking,” he said.
Officers from the Gaparillo Police Station seized a red gas container and a white nightgown at the scene.
Police advised the daughter to seek medical attention for a cut to her right wrist. The 10-year-old brother was interviewed in the presence of his father. Up to last evening, the mother was still in police custody.
In the last couple of months, there have been two reported incidents where mothers have been charged in connection with the deaths of their own children.
Investigations are continuing.