Tuesday 12 December 2017

Homeless man pleads insanity over €4m church fire

Fiona Ferguson

A HOMELESS man has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the arson of a city centre church, which caused over €4m in damage.

Patrick Currie (49) immediately admitted setting fire to straw behind a crib at the church with his own lighter and said he had done it because he was "God Almighty".

"I am after burning that church out of it and now I am off to Rome to burn the paedophiles," he told witnesses in a nearby hairdressers.

He also signed his fingerprint consent forms at the garda station as "Jesus Christ".

Dr Conor O'Neill, consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, gave evidence for the defence that he was of the opinion that at the time of the offence, Mr Currie was suffering from a mental illness such that he was unable to refrain from carrying out the act.


He told Ciaran O'Loughlin, defending, that his diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder.

Mr Currie, of no fixed abode, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to damaging by fire the interior and contents of St Catherine's Church, Meath Street, on January 2, 2012.

Karen O'Connor, prosecuting, told the jury that the fact Mr Currie had carried out the act was not in dispute and that the State accepted the evidence of Dr O'Neill.

She said that there was a special verdict available to the jury if it was found that the accused person was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offence that was such that they did know the nature or quality of the offence, did not know it was wrong or were unable to refrain from committing the offence.

Garda Brian Hawkins told Ms O'Connor that the parish priest at St Catherine's Church, Fr Niall Coghlan, had observed Mr Currie without any shoes in the church that morning and had brought him a pair of shoes and boots.

He was alerted shortly after that the church was on fire and the fire brigade were called.

Gda Hawkins said he was approached at the scene by members of the public who pointed out Mr Currie and said he was claiming responsibility. He said that Mr Currie was irate and shouting that he had burned down the church.

Dr O'Neill told Mr O'Loughlin that after he was interviewed by gardai, Mr Currie was taken to Cloverhill on remand where he was assessed and transferred to the Central Mental Hospital.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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