Stevenage mother from travelling community claims home was set on fire while children slept in their beds

Geraldine Devlin and her four children have nowhere to live after their home was vandalised.

Geraldine Devlin and her four children have nowhere to live after their home was vandalised. - Credit: Archant

A mother from the travelling community says she fears for her family’s lives after claims that a group tried to set fire to her home while her children slept in their beds.

Geraldine Devlin and her family woke to the sound of glass smashing.

Geraldine Devlin and her family woke to the sound of glass smashing. - Credit: Archant

Geraldine Devlin, who lives on the travellers site at Dyes Lane in Stevenage, says she woke in the early hours of Sunday morning to the sound of glass smashing.

Her family has four properties – including two caravans and a mobile home – on the land, which she says have all been destroyed.

Geraldine – who has four children aged six, seven, eight and 14 – said: “Those responsible tried to burn my kids alive in their own home.

“My children were asleep in their beds. They smashed windows on top of them and my children were on the floor screaming. They set fire to three of the properties but didn’t get to set fire to the property with the children in because the wind kept blowing their lit papers out.

Geraldine Devlin and her family woke to the sound of glass smashing.

Geraldine Devlin and her family woke to the sound of glass smashing. - Credit: Archant


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“It started at about 2am and just continued for hours and hours.”

Geraldine says she has lived on the site – which is run by Herts County Council – for 17 years, but has been a victim of hate crime since 2006.

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“For years I have been suffering from discrimination – from the day I married my babies’ father, because he’s a non-traveller. Now we are homeless and my kids haven’t even got any clothes. My children have got no home and it’s Christmas. We can’t go back to Stevenage. I’m afraid for our lives.”

In 2013, 21-year-old Thomas Ward was shot and killed on the travellers site as part of a 30-year feud between two families. John ‘Boy’ Ward, 33, of Clarkson Court in Hatfield, was jailed for a minimum of 32 years for murdering Thomas – his cousin’s son.

Geraldine said: “Something has got to be done about the violence. My children have been through enough there. They are terrified.”

A police spokesman said: “We are investigating allegations of criminal damage to two caravans in Dyes Lane on Sunday. A 48-year-old man from Stevenage has been arrested in connection with this incident.

“We are aware of previous incidents at the location and are continuing to work with residents in Dyes Lane, partners at Hertfordshire County Council and the traveller liaison officer in order to address any issues.”

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