Man jailed after setting fire at Edinburgh flats

A man who tried to murder a young boy and another man by setting a fire outside their door in a high-rise block of flats has been jailed.

Craig McQuillian was caught on camera entering the Fidra Court building in Edinburgh at around 11.30pm on November 12, 2023. 

The 44-year-old was carrying a metal crowbar and a plastic carrier bag which held a container filled with petrol.  

After taking the lift to the victim's floor, he doused the accelerant on the floor directly outside the door before setting it alight and fleeing the scene.  

A young child, who was inside the affected flat, raised the alarm by shouting ‘fire’ after he smelt burning while in bed.  

The flat’s other occupant was able to extinguish the flames using a wet towel before emergency services arrived at the scene.  

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service commander, who attended the incident, said the fire could have spread, creating a risk of additional casualties and damage to the flats above, below and on the same floor.   

He stated that fire officers would have had to conduct a high-rise rescue procedure which requires significant resources and time to set up.  

Even once all the resources had been in place, it would still have taken officers at least 15 minutes reach the point of the fire before beginning to put it out safely. 

The building is a 14-storey tower block and contains 56 flats. 

McQuillian appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, May 21, where he plead guilty.  

He admitted attempting to murder his two victims by wilfully setting fire to their front door, blocking their only escape route.   

On Wednesday, May 22, McQuillian was sentenced to six years in prison.  

Moira Orr, who leads on homicide and major crime for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, 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. 

“Our prosecutors will continue to do our utmost to prosecute those who carry out dangerous acts such as this to help keep the communities we serve safe.”