Man admits to starting St Simon’s fire

A man has admitted to starting the fire that destroyed St Simon’s Church, Partick, in July last year.

Ryan Haggerty, 25, pled guilty after being charged with wilful fire-raising.

The fire awoke Sr Mary Ross SND, who was sleeping in the presbytery next door. She managed to escape without sustaining serious injury, but did collapse after seeing the devastation caused by the fire.

Haggerty was seen after the fire covered in soot, telling local residents not to ‘grass’ him in.

Prosecutor Eilidh Robertson said the group were suspicious he had started the fire and ‘challenged him,’ whereupon he denied it, saying ‘you all think I started that fire, don’t you?’

No decision has yet been announced by the Archdiocese of Glasgow on what will be done with the church, though Robertson said restoring St Simon’s to its former construction would cost ‘several millions.’

St Simon’s was the third oldest church in the Archdiocese of Glasgow and maintained its historic link with Partick’s Polish community, many of whom now attend St Peter’s.

Haggerty’s lawyer claimed that his client, who lived in homeless accommodation near the church, had a drug addiction at the time and it was revealed he had a previous conviction for the same crime.

No motive for starting the fire was given.

Haggerty is pending sentencing, which will take place next month.

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