A Dublin man who claims he was paid €50 by a traveller who had a grudge against someone to throw a petrol bomb into a house has been sentenced to four years.
The homeowner was in the house with his three year old son and ten day old baby when John Paget set his Renault Megan alight. The vehicle was parked feet away from the house and the court heard the homeowner was a complete innocent.
Paget (37) of Carnlogh Road, Cabra, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage by arson on December 12, 2013. He has previous convictions for assault, burglary and public order.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring accepted that Paget was “the patsy” but added “he went to the garage, filled a milk bottle, got on his bike, went to the premises and actually threw the bomb”.
She suspended the final 12 months of the four year term after she accepted that there were others involved in the offence.
Garda Michael O’Brien told Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting, that the homeowner was putting the baby to sleep about 8.50pm that night when he heard a bang and a flash of light lit up the whole sitting room.
He went outside to discover flames on the ground and on the roof of his car. A man passing by assisted him in quelling the flames, which had also spread towards the terraced house beside him.
Gardaí were contacted but an initial search of the area revealed nothing. The man had CCTV on his home and Gda O’Brien said the culprit could be seen cycling up to the house before he ignited a petrol bomb and threw it at the car.
Staff in the local petrol station confirmed that a man had bought 80 cent worth of petrol that evening which he poured into a small milk bottle. CCTV footage from the garage showed the same man leaving the garage and heading in the direction of the man’s home.
Gda O’Brien said a colleague was able to identify Paget from the garage’s footage and he was arrested at his home two days later.
Paget intially said someone had punched him in an unprovoked way that night and he followed him home and set fire to his car.
He later said he had been paid €50 to carry out the attack by a traveller who claimed that he had a grudge against the homeowner because he was “a rat”.
Gda O’Brien agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending, that the homeowner had no assoication with this man and confirmed he was completely innocent in all of this.
Mr Rea asked the court to accept that the damage was limited to the vehicle and the front edges of the neighbouring house but agreed with Judge Ring that this was due to the quick intervention of the homeowner and the passer-by.
“Fortunately for him and more fortunately for the family in the house it went no further than the damage to the car,” counsel said.
Mr Rea said his client apologised for his role and said there was no ill will between him and the homeowner.
He accepted, following a suggestion from Judge Ring, that Paget had not knocked on the house to make sure there was nobody home before he threw the petrol bomb.
There was no victim impact report prepared, although the homeowner was in court, because as Mr Kelly explained when the damage is limited to property, rather than the house, the legislation does not allow for the preparation of such a report.
Counsel stressed that it was State’s case that this was an act of extreme violence.