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Garda, pregnant wife and kids forced to flee from blaze, court told

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The damaged trees outside the garda's family home

The damaged trees outside the garda's family home

The damaged trees outside the garda's family home

A 13-year-old boy accused of setting fire to trees outside the home of a garda "forced the garda, his pregnant wife and two young children to run through burning embers and escape over a boundary wall", a court has heard.

Following the alleged arson attack, the family were left traumatised, with one of the young children refusing to return to the family home.

The teen, who cannot be identified as he is a juvenile, allegedly did not know who owned the house, Drogheda District Court heard.

The teen appeared before Judge Erin McKiernan, where after the alleged facts of the case were heard, the judge accepted jurisdiction to have the case dealt with summarily at district court level.

Detective Garda Andrew Duffy told the court that at 11pm on June 7 large fir trees outside the home in Hawthorn Crescent in Dundalk, Co Louth were set on fire.

A neighbour ran into the home of the garda and told him and his family to leave the home due to the fire.

The garda, his pregnant wife and young children had to run through burning embers and climb a boundary wall to avoid the flames which blocked the driveway.

The garda returned to the property to remove his vehicle and a neighbour's vehicle fearing the cars would go on fire.

Two appliances from Dundalk Fire Service attended the scene.

"€2,000 worth of damage was caused to the soffits of the house while the trees that were set on fire were removed," said Det-Gda Duffy.

It is alleged the accused was identified on CCTV footage setting the fires.

"It is alleged no accelerant was used and the trees went up in flames quickly because of the dry period," said Det-Gda Duffy.

Gda Duffy said the incident was "extremely traumatic for the family", with one of the young children refusing to go back to the house.

Defence barrister Ronan O'Carroll, instructed by solicitor Brian Keenan, said he has not yet received instructions on whether the accused is pleading guilty or not guilty.

Penalties

It is alleged the teen did not know the house was owned by a serving member of An Garda Síochána.

Judge Erin McKiernan said the alleged offence is "extremely serious" but because of the teen's age and maturity she accepted jurisdiction to have the case heard at district court level where if convicted the penalties are less than those imposed at circuit court level.

The judge ordered a Probation Report and remanded the accused on continuing bail to appear before the court again in November.