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Rachel Crawshaw is an Irish arsonist. On the night of 12-13 March 2014, she set fire to her own home where she was drinking with friends. John Palmer, 37, and Greg Lonergan, 36, died. Crawshaw and John's twin brother were both rescued alive. Crawshaw had to be stopped returning to the fire.

Fire

Crawshaw, 28 at sentencing, had been a drug and alcohol addict most of her adult life. She underwent years of counseling and therapy but her slide continued.

On March 12, 2014, she tried to kill herself and was hospitalized, but discharged herself so she could resume drinking. She returned home to her rented third-floor apartment at Granary Court, St Joseph’s Rd, Mallow.

She set fire to three spots in the house; curtains, a mattress, and a pile of clothes. She did not use any accelerant. Crawshaw was extremely drunk and her motive is unclear, although it was possibly a suicide attempt. Around 80,000 euros of damage was caused.

Greg Lonergan was so badly burned his family was not allowed to view the body. He was identified through dental records.

Criminal proceedings

Garda (Irish police) conducted forensic investigations at the scene, establishing arson due to multiple points of origin. After a probe lasting nearly two years, Crawshaw was arrested at Cork Airport on February 22, 2015.

In April 2016 she pled guilty to arson and the manslaughter of her friends. The judge accepted she was remorseful and had suffered difficulties in her life. He also found it significant Crawshaw had not used an accelerant and her lawyer pointed out despite her many years of addiction she had never been violent.

Nonetheless, the judge called it "one of the most serious and heinous of crimes." After noting a probation report called Crawshaw a high risk of reoffending he sentenced her to 15 years with 5 suspended in October 2016. The judge was particularly troubled that after 11 years of therapy she was worse, not better.

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