Man jailed for seven years for setting apartment complex on fire in family feud and causing almost €400,000 in damages
A man has been jailed for seven years for setting an apartment complex on fire as part of a family feud and causing almost €400,000 in damages.
Patrick Maughan (29) set the fire outside an occupied flat in the complex while a family with two young children were inside. There were no injuries aside from smoke inhalation but 31 people, including children, had to be evacuated. Some of the residents had to climb over their balconies to escape.
After the fire 20 apartments had to be repaired and the residents were in alternative accommodation for eight months. The company who owned the complex incurred a total loss of €517,000 in repairs, lost rent and rehousing costs.
Maughan of Boot Road, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson at Block B, Thornfield Square, Clondalkin on July 7, 2013.
Judge Patricia Ryan noted that maximum term for arson is life imprisonment before imposing a ten year term with the final three suspended. She also ordered Maughan to undergo three years supervision by the Probation Service on his release.
Garda Aisling McGowan told prosecuting counsel Maurice Coffey BL that CCTV showed Maughan going to a near-by petrol station in the early hours of the morning and buying €2 of petrol and a fuel can.
He was next seen on CCTV entering the apartment complex. A short time later a mother who was up with her sick child noticed the smoke and saw the fire outside an apartment. She shouted at the residents to get out, thus saving their lives, the court heard.
Gardaí arrived and continued evacuating flats as the fire brigade dealt with the blaze.
Maughan was arrested shortly afterwards and refused to make admissions at first. He later told gardaí he “was out of it” and started the fire as part of a family feud.
Gda McGowan told the court that Maughan is a member of the travelling community and is married with four children.
Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC said it was an act “of gross stupidity and recklessness.” He said Maughan was drinking and taking prescription drugs at the time.
He said he “stole out in the middle of the night and set out on this ill-conceived jaunt” without the knowledge of his wife. “But for the grace of God this could have been far more serious,” counsel added before asking for leniency from the judge.