License article

Dad offers $50,000 reward over son's death

The father of a teenager who died in a house fire is posting a $50,000 reward for information about the death, despite police saying the blaze was not deliberately lit.

Damien Sheehy's 18-year-old son Daniel died in March when flames engulfed his bedroom in their Melton South home.

Police have completed their investigation and found no evidence of arson. A spokeswoman would not comment further about the investigation, but it is believed the arson squad found that the fire had started on Daniel's bed.

Mr Sheehy has refused to accept that the case is closed, pointing to a feud between Daniel and gangs that led to him being kidnapped and shot at only weeks before the fire.

Three men will face the County Court for a directions hearing on February 27, charged with kidnapping and assault-related offences in relation to that incident. It is alleged they kidnapped several men during a dispute with a rival gang in the Melton area.

Mr Sheehy said an autopsy showed that his son had a broken ankle when his body was found near the end of his bed. The autopsy also showed Daniel had taken illicit drugs.


Daniel had received death threats on Facebook and had warned his father to stay away from his bedroom hours before he died almost a year ago.

He said the fire was so intense that it could not possibly have started accidentally, but police had not found any signs that an accelerant had been used.

"Until it's proven otherwise I will believe he died from foul play," Mr Sheehy said.

"I respect what the arson police have done, but there's no way that fire was an accident."

Mr Sheehy, a pensioner, said he had enough money to post the reward and was convinced someone knew how the fire started and who was responsible.

He admitted being scarred by the experience of trying to rescue his son from the burning room, but said the terrible loss had not clouded his judgment.

"Every day I wonder whether I could have saved him," Mr Sheehy said.

A police spokeswoman said no comment would be made about the reward and said it would be inappropriate to outline particulars of the investigation because the case was before the Coroner.

She said abductions and shootings in the Melton area in the weeks after the fire, reported by Fairfax in April, were not linked to the blaze.

On the morning of Daniel's death, incensed friends outside the shell of his Hume Avenue house shouted that there would be payback. But the Homicide Squad pulled out of the investigation within days, and it was taken over by the Arson and Explosives Squad.

A person close to the investigation said it was merely a coincidence that the deadly fire happened while Daniel was embroiled in a violent tit-for-tat.

"Daniel was involved in a lot of stuff that was going on at the time, and when this happened there was talk of the house being petrol-bombed and so forth, but it's just a coincidence," the source said.

"He may well have been in fear of blokes coming after him, but there's no evidence they lit the fire."

Mr Sheehy said anybody with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, and he would then provide the caller with the reward if that information resulted in an arrest.