The mother of a little boy who who was killed in a house fire 20 years ago held a candlelit vigil in memory of him tonight.

Joe McCafferty, seven, was killed when petrol was poured through the letterbox of his aunt’s home in Haywood Avenue, Marsh, at 5am on May 3, 1997, and set alight.

He was staying in the house with his cousins while his mum Tracey was working away and later died in hospital from his injuries.

Joe McCafferty - arson attack victim


More than 20 family members, including his aunt Debbie Pierre, whose former house was set alight, and friends stood in the freezing cold and lit candles outside the house to mark the 20th anniversary of Joe’s death.

The arsonist has never been caught and detectives have renewed their appeal to members of the community to come forward with any information.

No motive has ever been adduced for the crime and both Tracey and Debbie say they have no idea who would wish to harm members of their family.

West Yorkshire Police’s Det Supt Nick Wallen, who is leading the investigation, said: “This was an abhorrent crime and a truly tragic case which claimed the life of Joe but could easily have taken the lives of three other children.

“I strongly believe that the answer to this case lies within the community and would like to appeal to anyone who has any information or knows who is responsible to come forward and speak to the police.”

Joe McCafferty murder investigation in Huddersfield back to 'square one'

House on Haywood Avenue Marsh where Joe McCafferty died
Joe McCafferty
Joe McCafferty

Tracey, who still lives in Huddersfield, said: “Marsh is a very tight-knit community and I still believe that someone saw something that morning and I would like them to come forward to the police.

“I would also like the person who handed the note on the morning of the fire to the policeman who was on duty outside the house on that morning, some time afterwards to come forward.

“I only found out about this 11 months ago. As far as I’m aware that person has never come forward. The pain of what happened 20 years ago never goes away and I can see people at their windows looking at this vigil tonight.

“I just want them to know that it’s never going to end until I get answers to my questions and someone is brought to justice.

“I live with the pain of what happened daily, every morning, every night, every day. It’s never going to go away but if there was some closure maybe it would lighten the load slightly.

“Joe was my pride and joy, the life and soul of any gathering when he was around. He put a smile on everyone’s face. He was a very happy child.”

Joe’s cousin, Chantelle Cunningham, who was 12 at the time, managed to escape but has said in a recent interview that she still lives with the trauma of what happened that night.

Anyone with information is urged to call 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.