IT IS A SOBERING thought that one thoughtless act in discarding a lit cigarette could have such devastating consequences for a family and a whole community.

But that is just what has happened in the case of Colin Goulding whose cigarette, thrown away in haste, started a fire which destroyed the Crumlin factory where he worked.

The blaze spread quickly to other parts of the Real Crisps factory, where Goulding worked alongside his parents, caused millions of pounds worth of damage.

It ultimately led to the closure of the factory and the loss of dozens of jobs.

For Goulding, the extent of the damage caused means he now faces a lengthy jail sentence of more than six years.

While Judge Phillip Richards said he recognised there was no intention on Goulding's behalf to start a fire, he said he had to take into account the seriousness of the blaze which followed and the devastating impact it had had.

Factory owners Tayto Group Ltd decided that the extent of the damage was too great for them to consider rebuilding the factory meaning the loss of jobs for all of Goulding's former colleagues.

In an area where jobs are few and far between this was a major blow.

The tragedy of it all of course is that this was an accident, the result of a single reckless act.

But the fallout from it is still being felt today.