Friday 15 December 2017

Arsonist jailed after lost glasses put him in frame for fire

Stephen Tobin leaves court
in Cork yesterday
Stephen Tobin leaves court in Cork yesterday

Ralph Riegel

AN ARSONIST yesterday learnt that he shouldn't have gone to Specsavers.

Stephen Tobin (35) was jailed for 18 months for maliciously starting a fire which caused almost €500,000 worth of damage to a Cork nightclub.

The Circuit Criminal Court heard that Tobin, of Uam Var, Bishopstown, Cork, held a grudge against someone in O Riada's nightclub in Macroom, Co Cork.

He was traced by gardai because he left his Specsavers glasses behind.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain was told that Tobin suffers from an unusual astigmatism in his eyes and once gardai brought the recovered glasses to Specsavers, they were able to trace him.

Shortly before 4am on April 24, 2009, CCTV security cameras caught a man climbing over a wall and on to the rear roof of the single-storey nightclub.

The man removed several slates from the roof, making a football-sized hole, and then started a fire by pouring petrol from two small drums he had brought with him.

The blaze caused €454,258 worth of damage and the club was closed for two months.

Detective Garda Tom O'Sullivan said gardai believed Toibin was disturbed by a garda escort going through Macroom that morning with its siren sounding.

Tobin left a Canterbury sports bag at the scene.

In the recovered bag, gardai found two plastic drums, a nozzle, a metal hammer, a metal scraper, a cigarette lighter as well as Specsavers case and glasses.

"It was the Specsavers glasses which led to the identity of Tobin," Det Garda O'Sullivan said.

"I took the glasses to the Wilton outlet and established that the owner had a very distinctive stigmatism in both eyes. As a result of a warrant I established the owner of the glasses was Stephen Tobin."

Tobin was arrested and initially denied any involvement. He later pleaded guilty to an arson charge.

Defence counsel Tim O'Leary said that Tobin was neither a pyromaniac nor a fire-starter.

"There is no issue in that regard (pyromania). He did not stay around to watch the flames. He has never had a fascination with fire. You are dealing with (someone) with a grudge and drink.

"It is not a pretty situation at all. But it was totally out of character," he added. However, Judge O Donnabhain said the arson had "a level of preparedness which is exceptional".

He imposed a four-year prison sentence but agreed to suspend the final two-and-a-half. Macroom locals say the grudge was linked to Tobin apparently being refused admission to the club one evening. The nightclub now only opens on Fridays and Saturdays.

Irish Independent

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