Craig McQuillian: Courier captured on CCTV trying to burn down Edinburgh flat with man and boy inside | UK News

A courier who tried to kill a young boy and a man by setting a fire outside their door within a high-rise block of flats has been jailed for six years.

Craig McQuillian, 44, was captured on camera starting the petrol blaze on the 10th floor of the 14-storey tenement in Edinburgh.

A court heard a youngster inside the flat smelled burning while in bed and raised the alarm by shouting “fire”.

A man, who was also in the property, was able to extinguish the flames blocking their only escape route by using a wet towel before emergency services arrived at the scene.

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
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Craig McQuillian arriving at the flat. Pic: Crown Office

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
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Pic: Crown Office

Although no one was injured, the sentencing judge made reference to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June 2017, in which 72 people died after a blaze tore through the 24-storey block of flats in London.

Lord Mulholland told McQuillian: “You have pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted murder.

“Had it not been for the quick thinking and the bravery of one of the occupants in putting it out, you could have been facing charges of murder.

“You only need to look at Grenfell Tower to know the consequences of actions such as your own.

“However, you got off your mark leaving the occupants to their fate.”

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
Image:
Pic: Crown Office

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
Image:
Pic: Crown Office

The incident occurred at around 11.30pm on 12 November 2023.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that McQuillian set the fire in a targeted attack against the older victim in response to the man’s alleged harassment towards a family member.

McQuillian, who worked as a courier delivering organs for the NHS, was captured on CCTV entering the block of flats with a metal crowbar and a plastic carrier bag which held a container filled with petrol.

After setting fire to the accelerant poured outside the flat door, McQuillian was then seen fleeing the scene.

Craig McQuillian. Pic: Police Scotland
Image:
Craig McQuillian. Pic: Police Scotland

A neighbour, whose doorbell camera recorded the attack, called 999 when they were alerted to the incident via a notification through an app on their phone.

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The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) commander reported that the blaze could have spread throughout the building, creating a risk of additional casualties and damage to the surrounding properties.

The court heard that McQuillian, who lived in Stirling before his arrest, began crying when he learned that a child had been present in the property.

McQuillian pleaded guilty on Tuesday to wilful fire-raising, danger to life and attempted murder. He was sentenced to six years behind bars on Wednesday.

Moira Orr, lead of homicide and major crime COPFS, said: “This was an extremely reckless act that could have had devastating consequences had it not been for the brave and swift actions of his victims.

“Craig McQuillian carefully planned this targeted attack, which took place when most residents would have been asleep in bed.

“It was only by good fortune that the young child smelled burning and was able to raise the alarm in time.

“McQuillian will now have to face the consequences of his callous actions and I hope this conviction gives his victims some comfort.”