Father dies after fire that killed children

A FATHER whose son and daughter were killed in a deliberate fire at their flat has died in hospital, police said yesterday.n

Bridget Sharkey, eight, and her brother Thomas, 21, died after the blaze at their home in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, in the early hours of last Sunday.

Their parents Thomas Sharkey, 55, and Angela, 46, suffered serious burns and were taken to hospital, but Mr Sharkey, who was told about his children's deaths after he regained consciousness on Tuesday, died yesterday morning at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

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It is understood that Mrs Sharkey is still unaware that her husband and Bridget and Thomas are dead.

Strathclyde Police launched a murder investigation after the deaths.

The emergency services were called to the blaze at the flat in Scott Court at around 5.10am last Sunday.

The fire broke out in the living room and quickly spread. Police said the building had just one door and the family had been trapped.

Mr Sharkey had been seen hanging out of the window and shouting for help. His son was found dead at the scene. The rest of the family were taken by ambulance to Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, where Bridget died a short time later.

Fifty officers are involved in the investigation, and yesterday police set up an e-mail address for information in a bid to catch the killers.

On Thursday, Valerie McFadyen, Mr Sharkey's sister, read a statement on behalf of the family.

Speaking at the town's police station, she said: "The entire family have been left shattered, devastated and now angry by the deaths of our darling Bridget and Thomas.

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"Golf was Thomas's life, and all his family and friends aspired to be as good as he was. His smile lit up every room and he always found the best in everyone he met. We always thought he would be famous for his golf and not for the tragic way he died."

Earlier, Detective Chief Inspector Anne McKerchar said: "This is a tragic event made worse by the fact that it was a deliberate act.

"An incident room has been set up at Dumbarton Police Office and I would appeal to anyone with any information that may help police inquiries to come forward.

"In particular, I would ask anyone who was in the James Street, West Princes Street or West Clyde Street areas of Helensburgh around 0500 hours last Sunday who may have seen anything suspicious or untoward to contact us as a matter of urgency."

Crimestoppers has put up a 10,000 reward for any information which leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever committed the crime.

The e-mail address for the investigation is [email protected].

Officers have also set up an additional phone number for the incident room.

People can now call 01389 822 059 or 01389 822 162 to get through to the investigation team.