Tuesday 22 May 2018

Homeless man acquitted of causing €100k of fire damage to Gaiety Theatre as he looked for cardboard to sleep on

Gaiety Theatre
Gaiety Theatre

Fiona Ferguson

A homeless man has been acquitted of recklessly causing €100,000 damage to The Gaiety Theatre after accidentally setting a bin on fire in a laneway as he looked for cardboard to sleep on.

Richard Crealy (37) told gardaí he was using a lighter as a torch to see inside the bins and had attempted to put out the fire he started. The smoke later seeped inside the shutters of the stage area of The Gaiety Theatre causing the sprinkler system to go off.

Mr Crealy told gardaí during interview that it was “a complete accident” and he would not have slept 20 feet away in the door way of Dunnes Stores on Grafton Street if it had been intentional.

He said the fire brigade were “everywhere” before he knew it and then the gardaí were talking to him. Gardaí who spoke to him at that time later recognised him on CCTV from the laneway.

Mr Crealy, of West Park Drive, Dublin 11, pleaded not guilty to committing arson at Tangier Lane, Dublin 2, in that he did without lawful excuse damage by fire The Gaiety Theatre and structure being reckless as to whether it would be damaged on April 26, 2015.

He was today acquitted of the charge by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury after approximately half an hour of deliberations following a two day trial.

Marie Torrens BL, prosecuting, told the jury in opening the case, that they were not contending that Mr Crealy intended to cause the damage he caused, but that he was reckless.

Judge Cormac Quinn told the jury during his charge that, in law, a person is reckless if they have foreseen that a particular kind of damage that was done, might be done, and yet they have gone on and taken the risk of it being done.

He told them that in order to convict Mr Crealy they had to consider two steps. Firstly they had to consider if he had “recklessly” caused the bin to go on fire and if he could have foreseen that the bin could have gone on fire by using the lighter.

Judge Quinn told the jurors that if they did find he recklessly caused the bin to go on fire then they needed to go on to consider a second step.

He said they must consider whether he foresaw that by causing the bin to go on fire that the smoke was going to penetrate the shutters of The Gaiety and activate the sprinklers, causing the damage.

Judge Quinn said that the prosecution must have proved that Mr Crealy foresaw that the damage to The Gaiety might have been done but went on to take the risk of it.

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