herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Hotel guests evacuated after arsonist lit fire for heat

Stock photo
Stock photo

A man has been jailed for two- and-a-half years after a fire he lit to keep warm outside got out of control and caused a hotel to be evacuated.

Sean Howard (32) told gardai he was drunk and on drugs and was caught out in the rain when he lit a bit of cardboard in a bin in a lane behind the Temple Bar Hotel in Dublin city centre.

The fire got out of control, melting the bins down to the wheels and causing damage to the hotel's back wall, boiler and a pair of double metal doors.

All of the 236 guests had to be evacuated despite the weather.

Howard, of Killary Grove, Donaghmede, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson last April 28.

Gda Sarah Barry said the fire alarm sounded at 4am and an employee saw "big flames" coming from Adare Lane.

Fled

The hotel manager later viewed CCTV footage and was able to identify Howard as they had known each other for 20 years.

Howard said that after the fire got out of control, he pushed the bin against a wall to try to empty it, but a man came into the lane so he fled.

The court heard that around €35,000 worth of damage was caused.

Howard also set fire to bins in the lane on April 3, the court was told. He pleaded guilty to arson on that date.

On that occasion, two rooms in the hotel had to be evacuated due to smoke and €3,000 of damage was caused to the hotel.

Howard has 132 previous convictions, including three for arson. Rebecca Smith, defending, said he admitted to having been on intoxicants.

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