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Former chemistry student set fire to luxury BMW 'while on drugs'

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A former chemistry student who set fire to a €34,000 BMW car at a luxury motor dealership while he was on drugs has received a two and half year sentence.

A former chemistry student who set fire to a €34,000 BMW car at a luxury motor dealership while he was on drugs has received a two and half year sentence.

A former chemistry student who set fire to a €34,000 BMW car at a luxury motor dealership while he was on drugs has received a two and half year sentence.

A former chemistry student who set fire to a €34,000 BMW car at a luxury motor dealership while he was on drugs has received a two and half year sentence.

Talavs Riekstins (23) had been deemed unfit for work by concerned colleagues and sent home earlier in the day when he turned up at Harford Motor Company to look at Ferrari cars.

He moved on when the dealership staff told him to leave but returned with a filled petrol can. He poured the petrol over a BMW parked outside the dealership and used a lighter to set it alight.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Riekstins, a Latvian national with an address at Kelly's Bay Moorings, Skerries, Dublin, had been under the influence of a substance he had purchased.

He pleaded guilty to arson at Harford Motor Company, Balbriggan on November 24, 2016. He has no previous convictions.

Riekstins later told gardaí that he wanted to burn a Ferrari because it was “lovely and red”. Asked why, he replied “because there's no money, no police”.

“I did it because I had no money, no job, no friends, and I couldn’t control my anger anymore,” he said. He told gardaí that he hadn't had a good night's sleep in five days.

The court heard that there pedestrians, included a woman pushing a buggy, were close to the scene. Riekstins told gardaí that he was concerned that he had put people in danger.

Judge Karen O'Connor noted that the company was out of pocket €35,000 from the destroyed car and the owner has since had to make changes in the way the public can access the showroom.

She said one of the main aggravating factors in this case was that fire was impossible to control.

She also noted that Riekstins did not meet the criteria for a mental disorder and that he had taken a substance at the time.

The judge acknowledged Riekstins's guilty plea, his “impressive employment history” at Ballymaguire Foods and his clean record as mitigating factors.

She accepted that Riekstins had family support in Latvia and wanted to go back to university to complete his undergraduate degree in chemistry.

The judge suspended the final 18 months of the two and a half year sentence and backdated the term to when he entered custody.

At the sentence hearing, defence counsel Tom Neville BL submitted to Judge O'Connor that it was a “bizarre” incident and that his client apologised fulsomely to the injured party.

Mr Neville asked the judge to take into account that Riekstins's employer had described the incident as completely out of character for the young man.

Online Editors