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Thursday 14 December 2017

Jail for man who set fire to to hay barn causing €77,000 worth of damage

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Court Reporter

A Co Tipperary man has received a four-year sentence, with two years suspended this week, for setting fire to farm buildings and machinery belonging to his former employer causing €77,500 worth of damage.

Daniel Kelly (25) of Tulla, Capparoe, Nenagh appeared before Ennis Circuit Criminal Court this week having pleaded guilty to arson causing €77,500 worth of damage to a barn and farm machinery on February 1, 2015.

He together with a co-accused, Cathal Griffin (26) of Wilton, Ballymackey, Nenagh, Co Tipperary also pleaded guilty to the theft of property valued at €3,800 including electric fencing, a chainsaw and two power hoses.

The court heard previously that Kelly had worked for the Patrick Scanlan, the  injured party, and he had gone to his farm at Garraunboy in Killaloe that day to steal property in an effort to recoup monies allegedly owed to him.

Mr Scanlan, denies any money was owing to Kelly.

In summarising the case, Judge Gerald Keys, presiding, outlined that the fire, which resulted from Kelly setting fire to hay bales in a barn that also contained farming machinery, caused €77,500 worth of damage.

Read More 'I was stupid to burn down hay barn and farm equipment worth €77,000'

He said of this just €17,000 had been recovered by the injured party through his insurance. It was also outlined that €6,800 worth of tools and equipment was stolen from Mr Scanlan on the night, and that all but €2,000 of that had been recovered.

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Judge Keys said the background to the case was that Kelly had worked for Mr Scanlan and had gone to his property on February 1 to steal “tools in lieu of wages”. He was driven to the farm by his co-accused Cathal Griffin who was to also obtain stolen tools as a reward for his involvement.

“Kelly admitted setting fire to the bales of hay, but said he did not see the machinery,” Judge Keys said.

Judge Keys added that the crime of arson is “serious” and one that “will not be treated lightly by the court”. That being said he added that his sentence must be proportionate to the crime.

It was outlined that prior to this incident Kelly had no previous convictions but since the arson, he had accrued 70 convictions and was currently serving a sentence. He is due for release in February 2018.

Read More Man jailed for setting fire to farmers' barns acted under duress from drug dealer

Speaking of Griffin, the Judge noted that he had consumed a quantity of alcohol and benzodiazepines on the night.

“He agreed to drive the car for the purpose of carrying out the theft. He is not charged with arson, but he did not notify the emergency services when the fire was started,” Judge Keys said.

He said in Griffin’s favour was the fact that he had no previous convictions.

He noted from a probation report handed into the court that Griffin has issues with addiction and was using cannabis to reduce his difficulties with arthritis.

“That is something this court cannot condone, until that type of medicinal cannabis is made a lawful drug,” he said.

He also noted that Griffin had attended agricultural college and had a good work history prior to this having worked as a farm labourer both here and abroad.

It was also accepted that Griffin had purchased €4,918 worth of replacement tools for Mr Scanlan, which at the last date were not accepted as they had already been replaced. However, the court said it was aware that the items had since been accepted by Mr Scanlan and he acknowledged therefore that Griffin had made full restitution.

“This was a joint enterprise, and alcohol and drugs was a contributory factor,” he said.

The mitigating factors in the case he said was that both accused pleaded guilty and saved the exchequer the cost of a trial because of their co-operation.

In the case of Kelly he imposed a four year sentence in respect of the arson, suspending two years of this sentence on the condition he enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of four years. It is also a condition of the bond that he submit to probation supervision upon his release from prison.

He imposed a two year sentence on Kelly in respect of the theft matters and ordered this run concurrently.

Griffin was sentenced to two years for his part in the thefts and this sentence was also suspended on the condition he enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for four years. He was also placed under probation supervision for a period of three years.

Both men entered the bond.


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