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Man dies after arson attack

Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Janelle Harper points to a lighter which she believes was used to set her home on fire. INSET: Akeil Phipps

A man who suffered third degree burns to 97 per cent of his body died at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital on Monday night.

According to fire officials, they received a call just after 1 am on Monday about a house on fire in East Port-of-Spain. Fire officials said they were able to contain the blaze and were assisted by residents who began dousing the flames before they arrived.

Two people were injured, Akeil Phipps and his uncle Leo Phipps. Both men were taken to hospital and warded in the Intensive Care Unit. Akeil succumbed to his injuries while his uncle, who suffered burns to his hands, was later transferred out of the ICU but remains warded in hospital.

The dead man’s stepmother, Janelle Harper told the T&T Guardian that her son managed to drag Akiel out of the house. She said she was awoken by shrieks coming from her home and saw the house on fire. By the time she got her family out she realised Akiel was still inside.

“My son went back in and he say when he reach inside he say Akeil was on his knees in the kitchen screaming “Help Me!”

“My son say he didn’t know what to do so he pull him out and put him on the ground outside,” Harper said.

She pointed to a stove lighter found outside her home which she believed was used to deliberately set her home on fire. Residents claimed the fire was set by a teenaged pyromaniac who they believe is responsible for setting two other houses in the district on fire recently. The residents said the suspect had been arrested.

However, police said they have no information about anyone being held in connection with Phipps’ death.

Speaking with the media at the Forensic Science Centre, Akiel’s parents, Warren Phipps and Carla Mc Pherson, said their son was an avid online gamer who went by the sobriquet “Ace”.

“God knows best. We don’t know the state of child who did this. But God will deal with whatever he needs to do. I only hope that he could rectify his life and turn it around and make this a stepping stone to rectify his life,” Mc Pherson said.

The father described his son as “a quiet person who would spend most time on his Playstation4 playing games when he was home. Other than that his uncle, who is my brother, would come home and play football for hours. This is not how it supposed to be, he supposed to be burying me.”

No cause for the blaze had been given up to yesterday.


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