Dad says sorry to sons after escape from fire

A MAN accused of trying to kill his sons in a car fire told them after they escaped the blaze "sorry boys", the Supreme Court in Burnie heard yesterday.

Paul Brian Edward Connelly is accused of trying to kill the two boys by igniting the contents of two gas cylinders in his car at his Shorewell Park home on December 5 last year.

One of the sons told a witness his father lit a cigarette inside the vehicle before it exploded as they sat within, the court heard.

Paramedics Richard Chapman and Naomi Chayse Keene told the jury yesterday Mr Connelly apologised to his sons as the three were treated in an ambulance later.

Mr Connelly, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder, and his sons suffered burns to 30 per cent of their bodies, the court heard.

Mental health clinician Paul Abbot told the court Mr Connelly had told him two days before the incident his sons were a reason he would not kill himself.

Mr Connelly passed a mental health assessment on December 3 after he'd left his home and taken 20 separate 5-milligram doses of Stemetil the night before, Mr Abbot said.

Mr Connelly showed no signs he was a danger to himself or other people, he said.

Mr Abbot told the court Mr Connelly had rated his mood that day as eight out of 10, and denied feeling any anger, anxiety or suicidal tendencies.

Mr Connelly's wife told the court one of the boys said to her later he'd heard a hissing noise in the car shortly before the explosion.

The boy told her that when he asked about the noise, Mr Connelly told him it was a new sound the car made, she said.

Janelle Walker, appearing as a witness, said she helped lead the boys away from the fire after the explosion.

One of them told her that Mr Connelly had got into the car, lit a cigarette and flicked it outside when the vehicle exploded, she told the court.

His Shorewell Park neighbours described hearing an explosion about 5pm on December 5.

Witness Hayden Jenkins said he jumped a locked gate at Mr Connelly's house to find him lying on the ground near a burning car.

The car was parked behind the house even though it was usually kept in a carport, witnesses said.

Mr Connelly's wife told the court her husband had problems with his sense of smell and hearing three years ago but these had stopped.

The trial continues today.

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