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Saturday 25 February 2017

'Joker' arsonist who set fire to school avoids jail

Nicola Donnelly

A FORMER school pupil who dressed up as 'Batman' character The Joker and set fire to the building causing more than €1m worth of damage, avoided a jail term yesterday.

Christopher Clancy (19), of Cherrywood Grove in Clondalkin, Dublin, was given 240 hours' community service in lieu of a two-year sentence.

Clancy had pleaded guilty to arson at Colaiste Chillian on the Old Nangor Road in Dublin on May 10, 2009.

When contacted by the Irish Independent, the principal of the school, Joe MacSuibhne, did not wish to comment.

Mr Clancy told gardai when he was arrested that he had burnt the school down "because it is run by hypocrites and I didn't like the way they treated my friends".

Garda Liam Ganny told the court that Mr Clancy filled six large jerry cans with petrol and cut his way through a wire-mesh fence to access the school grounds.

He smashed in a glass door and spilt the contents of one can along the corridor. He then lit the petrol and left the building.

When gardai arrived at the scene they noticed a man dressed "in a purple suit, with green hair, a white face and red painted lips".

Planned

"He was dressed up as The Joker from Batman," said Gda Ganny. "He then told us to go around the corner and we will see what he had done."

Mr Clancy had taped the burning of the building on his phone and had planned to send the video clip to his friends.

He told gardai he had left the school five months before the attack and said: "That's when I planned the attack". He purchased the jerry cans over a five-week period from Atlantic Homecare and hid them in bushes near the school.

He bought 100 litres of petrol from a nearby petrol station.

Mr Clancy told gardai: "I am glad I did it because the people will realise they can't treat students as sub-human."

The school was closed down for five days following the fire and Leaving Certificate students had to be accommodated at another school to sit their exams.

Mr Clarke's solicitor said: "The fire was contained to the back of the school and Mr Clancy did not attempt to flee the scene.

"He was 17 at the time of the offence and is an introspective and reserved person," he added.

The judge said the offence "seems to be a one-off incident," and ordered that the community service work be carried out within nine months.

Irish Independent

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