Abos Destroy Royal Park Family’s Dream Home

Thieves use car to light Royal Park blaze

Chris Pepper: The Advertiser | July 05, 2008


A YOUNG family has been left shattered after a heartless arson attack destroyed their dream home – six days before they were to move in.

Michael and Kirsty Forbes were to pick up the keys for their newly completed Royal Park home this Thursday.

But their dream was left in ashes after a gang dumped a car – which had been stolen in a home invasion nearby – in the garage of the couple’s Anne St home.

The gang, of up to four men of Aboriginal appearance, then set fire to the vehicle and the flames soon spread, gutting the $350,000, two-storey house.

Police suspect the house was picked at random by the gang. They have not ruled out the arsonists being part of the so-called Gang of 49.

The house will now have to be demolished.

At the site yesterday, friends of Mr and Mrs Forbes, who have three children aged nine, two and one, told of the couple’s pain.

“They’re horrified, it’s just devastating,” friend Sarah Gale said.

“It’s just tragic they’ve got the three kids and I know how excited they were about moving in.

“They worked so hard to build their dream house.”

“They were starting their lives, and it’s just a tragedy, it’s terrible.”

Neighbours described being woken in the middle of the night by the sound of the fire. “We heard a big explosion”, said one woman, who did not want to be named.

She said she felt for the family. “They’d been waiting for that house since last year. They came here this morning but they were too distraught,” she said.

Uniting Church minister Darren Lovell, who lives opposite, valiantly tried to save the house by tackling the flames with a garden hose, but the inferno had already taken hold.

“We couldn’t do enough.I just feel sorry for them,” he said.

Port Adelaide Detective Sergeant Lidio Santucci said [he] slammed the crime.

“It’s just outrageous,” he said.

Det Sgt Santucci said it was unclear who the offenders were, but he did not rule out the Gang of 49.

The rampage began when the [Abo] gang burst into a home on James St, Royal Park, shortly before midnight. They confronted the occupant before stealing his cream 1988 Ford station wagon, police said. Police also revealed officers had discovered cannabis plants at the James St house.

Ms Gale condemned the gang.

“They’re doing it for their own enjoyment and they’re ruining people’s lives”, she said.

Meanwhile, on Friday night firefighters tackled two other fires which damaged homes in Elizabeth Grove and Fulham. Both were believed to have been deliberately lit.