Man jailed for 15 years over 'callous' killing in arson attack
Published 23/06/2010 | 05:00
A MAN convicted of the "callous" manslaughter of a 50-year-old woman who died in a house fire in 2007 was jailed for 15 years yesterday at Clonmel Circuit Court.
As Jason Murphy was jailed, the court heard he had killed a woman who had developed a "thirst for knowledge" and who had just passed the Leaving Certificate as a mature student, an achievement she never got to know about.
Murphy (37), of 31 Elm Park in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, denied the manslaughter of Ann-Marie O'Neill at 202 Elm Park in April 2007, but was found guilty by a jury last March.
He was also found guilty of two counts of arson.
Her husband, Pat, who broke an ankle when forced to jump from an upstairs window to escape the fire has not been able to return to Elm Park since his wife's death.
The trial earlier this year heard that Jason Murphy and another man set fire to Pat O'Neill's car, which was parked outside the couple's home in Elm Park.
The fire spread to the house and, after realising that they couldn't escape downstairs, Mr O'Neill told his wife they would have to jump from a first-floor window.
He got out, breaking an ankle in the process, but Mrs O'Neill had an asthma problem, was overcome by the smoke and was unable to jump. She died shortly afterwards.
In a victim impact statement prepared by the victim's family and read out in court, her loved ones described how Ann-Marie's friendship, support, good nature and good humour were "irreplaceable".
The judge said he had to regard the "callous nature" of the offences.
He accepted that there was no intention to kill or hurt anyone, but said that the recklessness in starting the fire was "of a high order".