Wednesday 11 December 2019

Callely's son set fire to clubber with firework in 'moronically stupid act'

Guilty plea: Oliver Callely leaves court after the hearing, in which he admitted lighting the firework in the nightclub. Photo: Collins
Guilty plea: Oliver Callely leaves court after the hearing, in which he admitted lighting the firework in the nightclub. Photo: Collins
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A son of former politician Ivor Callely accidentally set a man alight by letting off a firework at a crowded nightclub in a "moronically stupid and dangerous act", a court heard.

Oliver Callely (27) ignited a blue firework in a smoking area at popular Dublin venue Copper Face Jacks after earlier watching Dublin's win over Mayo in an All-Ireland football semi-final.

He dropped it, but it "took off", hitting and setting fire to a clubber, who had to go for treatment at a hospital burns unit.

Judge Karen O'Connor ordered a probation report and adjourned sentencing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

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Callely, of St Lawrence's Road, Clontarf, pleaded guilty to unlawfully igniting a firework on September 6, 2015.

Det Gda Niall Murray said the incident happened on a first-floor balcony.

The victim saw a spark, heard a bang, and "caught on fire". It was on his arm, around the elbow, and his side, around the stomach area, and he patted himself down to put out the fire.

He was brought to an on-site medic and subsequently went to a hospital burns unit.

Callely's friends had "pleaded with him" not to light the three-inch blue firework.

It seemed to "take off" and struck the victim between the arm and body.

Callely had no prior convictions, but was on bail for an unrelated previous assault in the same nightclub at the time.

He went to New York on a student graduate visa before he was charged over the firework incident and ended up spending nearly a month in a US federal prison before he was extradited.

Defence barrister Dean Kelly said igniting the firework was a "moronically stupid and dangerous act".

There was no intent to hit anyone, but it was reckless, he continued.

Callely drank "a great deal too much" on the night and was "innocently possessed" of the firework, Mr Kelly said.

He had it as a result of having watched the match, with "fireworks being let off in a garden" and used it in a "lapse of judgment".

He had not "fled" to the US, but took the opportunity to go as his visa was "time-limited".

Family members had put up his €2,500 bail.

The accused had not enjoyed a "positive relationship with his father for a considerable period of time", and his father's profile had caused him difficulties.

He was supported in court by his mother and sister, who were "decent, hard-working people".

The victim was magnanimous in saying he did not wish the accused to be given a custodial sentence, Mr Kelly said.

He had said he could have suffered more serious injuries.

Judge O'Connor directed €1,000 to be paid to the victim and the court heard bail money would also be available when returned.

The judge said Callely should also be assessed for community service suitability, but this was not an indication of sentence.

Irish Independent

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