August 6 2011
– A mother regained consciousness in hospital today to be told the tragic news that her husband and two children had been killed in an arson attack at their home.
Angela Sharkey’s husband Thomas, 55, eight-year-old daughter Bridget and 21-year-old son, also called Thomas, died after the attack on their flat in Helensburgh, near Glasgow on July 24.
Mrs Sharkey, 46, who had been sedated after suffering serious burns, was given the grim news by her sister Margaret McKenchie after she came round in a ward at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary.
Sole survivor: Angela Sharkey awoke in hospital to be told her husband and two children had been killed in an Arson attack
Ms McKenchie said: ‘There was such sadness in her eyes and I can’t begin to explain how shattered she is by this terrible, terrible news.
‘We’re absolutely heartbroken at the deaths of young Thomas, Bridget and of course their dad Tommy as well.
‘She was totally and utterly devastated to hear from me that her two lovely young children had been taken from her.
‘Her family was her life and she has been robbed of any future with them. It’s so, so sad that she will never see young Thomas and Bridget grow up.’
Close family: A holiday photo of Angela Sharkey with her eight-year old daughter Bridget and 21-year-old son Thomas
Police have launched a triple murder investigation with a 55-strong team of officers working on the case.
The fire broke out in the living room of the flat at around 5.10am on July 24 and quickly spread.
Strathclyde Police said the building had just one door and the family became trapped by the flames.
The heat of the blaze caused a downstairs window to explode and left an area of severe scorching around the front door of the property in Scott Court.
Mr Sharkey Senior was 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 the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley where Bridget died a short time later.
Mr Sharkey and his wife both suffered serious burns and were moved to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where he died on July 30.
Ms McKechnie added: ‘On behalf of my sister Angela I would like to ask anyone please, please if you have any information, don’t be afraid to come forward to the police to help us solve this horrible crime.’
Thomas junior, an extremely talented golfer, was in the country after returning home from the U.S. where he had a Golfing Scholarship at Georgia Southern University.
In his biography on the Georgia Southern Eagles website, he described himself as ‘ambitious and competitive’, adding that his grandfather and father were the biggest influence on his athletics career for teaching him golf.
His sister Bridget is believed to have died after coming home from a planned sleepover because she missed her parents.
Police said they are keen to speak to people who were at two parties which took place near Scott Court on the night of the blaze.
The parties went on into the early hours of the morning.
They are also keen to speak to two men seen in the vicinity at around 5am.
A man in a grey hooded top was seen crossing West Princes Street near James Street at about 5am and another man was seen going on to John Street between 4am and 5am.
Police are examining CCTV collected from around the Argyll and Bute town and are visiting more than 500 houses and business premises.
Detective Superintendent Peter McPike said: “There are no suspects at the moment. Clearly we are really desperate to find out why this has taken place.
‘Perhaps once we can establish that we will be closer to finding a suspect.’
Family members (left to right) Margaret McKechnie, Gemma McFadyen and Val McFayden appeal to to the public for information during a police press conference
He added: ‘I don’t think people in Helensburgh are holding back. I do think that perhaps there might be a small number of people who might well be in receipt of information that could be crucial to the investigation and I would appeal to the consciences of those people to come forward and to contact us.’
He said that police will wait until medical staff give approval before they speak to Mrs Sharkey, whose condition is still critical.
Valerie McFadyen, 51, Thomas Sharkey Senior’s sister, said: ‘These murders have torn our family apart and it is something that no family should ever have to go through. It is very hard to come to terms with this.
‘Someone knows who carried out this appalling act, and we do not understand how anyone could protect this killer who has murdered three members of our family. We would urge people to please look at your conscience and make that vital call to police to help us.
‘We would like to thank people for their messages of condolence and help. But please keep doing all that you can to help police and help find those responsible.’
Crimestoppers has put up a £10,000 reward for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever committed the crime.
The email address for the investigation is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.