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Duo who burned speed van spared prison term

TWO men who set fire to a speed detection van while its operator was inside have avoided jail.

Martin Gowan (20) of Bolaney, Hollyfort, and Darragh Byrne (20), of Pine Cottage, Kilmurray, both Gorey, Co Wexford, pleaded guilty to causing damage by fire to a speed van, property of Road Safety Operations Ireland, on March 13, 2011.

Both also pleaded guilty to damaging the van by fire on the same occasion. Wexford Circuit Criminal Court heard the operator of the vehicle, John McDonald, was in the back of the van when he smelled burning. He managed to escape through the side of the van unharmed, but was in shock.

The defendants were later arrested and made full admissions. There was one other individual involved who was not before the court.

Judge Thomas Teehan imposed a sentence of seven years, but suspended this on condition that both defendants enter a bond of €100 to keep the peace for seven years.

Irish Independent