herald

Tuesday 25 June 2019

10 years jail for man who petrol bombed home as family slept

Gardai at the scene of the first arson incident at Tyrone Place
Gardai at the scene of the first arson incident at Tyrone Place

A man who set fire to an apartment with three children inside has been jailed for 10 years.

Ian O'Connor (29), of Emmet Crescent, Inchicore, Dublin, threw a petrol bomb at another family home less than a month later, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

He pleaded guilty to arson at Tyrone Place, Inchicore, on September 18, 2017. He also pleaded guilty to arson at Ailesbury Road, Dublin, on October 15, 2017.

The court heard that in the first arson, the heat of the fire caused a hearing aid to melt in a seven-year-old's ear, leaving her with a permanent scar.

Judge Melanie Greally sentenced O'Connor to 12 years' imprisonment for the first arson, but suspended the final two years on condition that he keep the peace and engage with the Probation Service for two years on his release.

Trapped

Judge Greally also sentenced him to six years' imprisonment for the later arson, to run concurrently with the other sentence.

She backdated all sentences to the day O'Connor went into custody - March 9, 2018.

Detective Inspector David Harrington told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that on the date in September, Margaret Green was asleep in her apartment along with her three children and woke to find the stairs on fire.

Ms Green was trapped upstairs by the fire and tried unsuccessfully to smash the windows to escape. She covered her two youngest children with wet towels and was choking on smoke when they were rescued by the fire brigade.

Her eldest son had fallen asleep while watching television downstairs and woke up to the sight of the front door on fire. He escaped via a balcony at the back of the apartment with the help of a neighbour.

O'Connor admitted starting the fire by pouring petrol in the letterbox and on the front door. He said he owed money to certain persons who had instructed him to light the fire and had told him that there would be no one in the house.

Det Insp Harrington agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that O'Connor believed that had he not lit the fire, then his family would be pipe-bombed.

In a victim impact statement, which was read out in court, Ms Green said that her seven-year-old daughter's hearing aid had melted in the fire, causing a permanent scar to her ear.

The court heard all four members of the family had sustained injuries. Ms Green said she thought that she and her family were all going to die.

Detective Garda Shane Cahill told Mr McGillicuddy that in the second attack, William Godson woke to find flames outside the kitchen window of the home of his parents and two younger siblings.

He grabbed bottles of water and used them to douse the fire.

O'Connor told gardai that he got an offer of €2,000 to put a petrol bomb through a window and was told that there was no one in the house, but he had not been paid as it had not worked.

He said he had brought two petrol bombs to the house but had only thrown one.

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