THE GRAPHIC last minutes of millionaire’s son Jason Smurfit’s life were revealed last
night by the man who tried to talk him out of killing himself.
Thairone Human told Ireland on Sunday how he first met the troubled
35-year-old and thought he was a vagrant having a wash at the back of
the church where he set himself on fire.
When he discovered he was pouring petrol over himself, Thairone pleaded
with him repeatedly to stop.
But, the 29-year-old said last night as he forced back tears, Smurfit
refused to even acknowledge him.
Another witness – who asked not to be named – claims he even saw Smurfit
take two mouthfuls from one of the two petrol cans he brought with him
to the London church last Sunday.
The Lebanese man thought Smurfit – whose body is due to be flown to home
later on today or tomorrow morning – was drinking water.
Thairone had just left the baptism of his six-month-old nephew Raiden at
Saints Michael and Martin Church, Bath Road, Hounslow, London on Sunday,
He had just turned into the laneway along the side of the church when he
saw Smurfit – who was nephew of packing billionaire Sir Michael Smurfit
- standing with his back to a set of black railings attached to the
He said: “Because of the way he was dressed with his beard and long
black coat, I thought he was a tramp trying to have a quick wash.
“There was a petrol can by his feet and he was shaking another one over
his head as if he was giving himself a shower.
“When I suddenly realised what he was doing and that it was petrol I
went up to him and shouted at him to stop.
“He didn’t look at me once or say a single word.
“Instead, he just stared blankly into the middle distance at a wooden
fence a few feet in front of him.
“He was holding the can firmly with two hands after I shouted at him, he
started shaking it more frantically, trying to force the petrol to come
“He also seemed a bit unsteady on his feet, and tripped a couple of
times as if he was drunk.
“I said to him ’Please, please don‘t do this to yourself. Stop it. Stop.’
“I also screamed out for anybody else who was coming out of the church
after the baptism service, but nobody came.
“Again I shouted, I begged, I pleaded with Mr Smurfit – ’Please, please
don’t do this.’
“He just ignored me.
“He then chucked the petrol can to the ground and reached into his
pocket and took out a pink disposable lighter.
“Again, this was without a word and any change in the blank expression
on his face.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I still have flashbacks about it now.
“There was a man in front of me trying to set himself on fire.
“There was a moment of relief when the lighter didn’t work and I thought
he wasn’t going to it but he cursed when this happened.
“He said ’S**t, the f*****g thing isn’t f*****g lighting’.
“He tripped again and almost fell forward as he reached into his pocket
“I shouted at him again not to do it, over and over – and also shouting
out for more help.
“I wanted to run back into the church but I didn’t want to leave him alone.
“But within a few seconds, he’d pulled out a silver lighter.
“He just put it straight away to his chest and he then exploded into a
“His whole body just caught fire.
“Everything was in flames in a split second.”
By now, Thairone had managed to dial 999 and was giving the emergency
operator a running commentary of what was happening as it happened.
He continued: “The flames shot up into the air and I jumped back.
“He stumbled around for a while and started thrashing his arms about.
“He was also walking about, going from the wall of the church to a
nearby fence, backwards and forwards in complete silence.
“People had started to arrive with water and were trying to get near him
to splash him with it but they just couldn’t get close to him because
the flames were so intense.
“But after a while he stumbled again and fell against a fence and
crumpled to the ground in sitting position, with his back to the fence.
“He was still on fire but at least people were able to get to him with
fire extinguishers and the flames were eventually put out.”
He added: “While were waiting for the ambulance and fire crews to turn
up, he was still alive.
“Although his eyes were closed, his head was half bowed and I could hear
his breathing, which was very laboured.
“His face was all black and charred.
“The whole spectacle is something I will never forget for the rest of my
Thairone, a recruitment consultant with Office Angels in Hounslow, is to
attend a special counselling session that is being laid on at the church
for other witnesses today.
He said: “I haven’t been back to work since it happened a week ago.
“I really feel that I could have done more for him and constantly ask
myself if I did enough.
“Did I shout loud enough? Could I have tried to say more?
“My heart goes out to the family of this man and I do offer them my
condolences, but I really did try and do what I could.”
His 26-year-old brother Thaireno, a local fireman and one of three fathers
who had taken their children to be baptised at the church, said:
“I shouted for people to call 999 and asked people to get
whatever water or fire extinguishers they could lay their hands on.
“Leaving my six-month-old son Raiden with my wife, I ran out and saw the
man in flames.
“He must have slipped and fallen against a garden fence to the side of
“When I got there, he was sitting down and he had his back resting
against the garden fence.
“All his clothes were burnt and from what I could see of his face, he
just seemed so expressionless.
“He never said a single word or even give out a scream.
“I really get the impression he was just very determined to do what he did.”
His body is due to return to Ireland later on today or tomorrow.
And although a full funeral is expected to take place later this week, a
special remembrance service is to be held at the London church today.
A parishioner who works at Saints Michael and Martin Church near
Heathrow Airport said he believed the family were expected to say
prayers at the spot where he died.
A bouquet of flowers and a small wooden cross were placed there earlier
in the week.
Prayers were said at 9am mass yesterday morning, as they have been every
day since the tragic incident.
His shocked family are currently in London arranging the transfer of his
Police were able to piece together Smurfit’s last movements after
details – including a hotel key card – of where he had been staying
since arriving in London last Thursday week.
An inquest into his death – which is not being treated as suspicious -
heard he stayed two nights at The Hilton Hotel by Heathrow’s Terminal 4
and – after a dispute with a receptionist – one night at nearby Jurys Inn.
Last Sunday morning, he told staff he wanted to go to mass and asked for
the nearest Catholic Church.
He had not checked out and was expected to spend another night at the hotel.
On the way to Saints Michael and Martin in a silver Mercedes supplied by
an executive chauffeur-driven car company, he stopped off at a garage to
buy a sandwich and two petrol cans.
The man who served him – who is currently off work – admitted later:
“There was something about him.
“He wasn’t all there. He just didn’t seem right in the head.”
Police have now taken CCTV footage of his visit.
The boss of the garage told Ireland on Sunday: “People come in here all
the time to buy petrol in cans.
“Mr Smurfit said his car had run out of petrol and the man who served
him believed him, although later when asked about him – he did feel
there was something strange about him.
“In fairness, we get people in here buying petrol for all sorts of
reasons and they are usually to fill up their cars or for their lawn
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