Monday 26 September 2016

'It will take us years to recover' - puppeteer devastated after blaze causes €150,000 worth of damage

Martin Grant

Published 03/12/2015 | 15:04

Liam Lambert with kids' favourite, Judge, after the blaze
Liam Lambert with kids' favourite, Judge, after the blaze

A puppeteer believes the legal system "works mysteriously" after arson charges were dropped against a boy (16) accused of setting fire to his theatre.

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It is estimated that €150,000 worth of damage was caused to the historic Lambert Puppet Theatre - home of children's TV series Bosco and Wanderly Wagon - when it was set alight earlier this year.

The teenager accused of starting the fire, who cannot be named, was later arrested and refused bail when he appeared before Dublin Children's Court in September charged with arson and burglary.

A preliminarily hearing was due to be held earlier in the week for directions from the DPP to be given, as well as a decision on a trial venue.

However, Judge John O'Connor was told the DPP had directed the charges be withdrawn.

Puppeteer Liam Lambert - who took over the running of the theatre from his father Eugene - has been left stunned by the decision.

Issue

"It's going to take us years to recover from what happened. The way the legal system works is a mystery," Mr Lambert told the Herald.

"I've been dealing with the consequences for months, like the issue that my insurance premium will inevitably boost.

"We came very close to closing the theatre, but we're up and running again. I feel sorry for his parents… because it's beyond understanding," he added.

Mr Lambert said that a lot of the damage remains to be assessed. He added the company worked around the clock for weeks to recreate the Christmas shows.

There were over 300 puppets destroyed in the fire on August 28 at the Monkstown theatre, which cannot be used again.

"A lot of them were made by my father, which are basically irreplaceable. It takes a lot of time and money to build a show," he said.

Damaged

"In February I think it will hit me - that's when I will start opening the damaged puppets. We're doing Aladdin for Christmas and the puppets were all destroyed, so we rebuilt them over six weeks.

"But there's no point in getting angry. You have to deal with the immediate situation. The priority was to get the shows rebuilt for Christmas, and we did that."

The accused teenager is due back in court on unrelated charges.

The Herald

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