Thursday 22 August 2019

Man (55) jailed for eight years for starting fire and confessing to fictitious murder

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Brion Hoban

A man who started a fire that spread to his neighbours' apartments and later confessed to a fictitious murder has been jailed for eight years.

Peter Bradshaw (55), formerly of Glin Court, Coolock, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson at that address on January 24, 2018.

Judge Martin Nolan sentenced him to 11 years imprisonment, but suspended the final three years of the sentence on strict conditions.

Detective Garda Eoin Kennedy told Philip Rahn BL, prosecuting, that Noel Murray, a resident of the Dublin City Council flats, heard banging on his door in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Murray went outside and saw Bradshaw, who told him he had “dropped a cigarette on newspaper”. Mr Murray noticed smoke and began waking other residents.

Another resident woke up to find his apartment filled with smoke. As he exited he passed by Bradshaw who laughed and said “I've done it now”.

Members of the Fire Brigade arrived and took 30 minutes to get the “extensive fire” under control. They determined that the fire began in Bradshaw's apartment and then spread to the adjoining apartments.

The total estimated cost to Dublin City Council as a result of the fire was €782,027. Residents had to be moved to emergency accommodation and the apartments are not yet habitable.

Bradshaw then went to Clontarf Garda Station and said he wanted to confess to a murder. He said he had assaulted a man “for annoying him” and then set his mattress on fire.

In interview with gardaí he claimed that he threw someone from a balcony and then dragged the body back up to his apartment. He also claimed that he lit the mattress on fire as he thought there was a dead body on it and he planned to fake his own death.

He later accepted that he had not murdered anyone. He said that if the doctors in Beaumont Hospital had done their job he would not have lit the fire, saying “I was there the day before but they let me go”.

Bradshaw has 40 previous convictions, including convictions for criminal damage, trespass, burglary and theft. In 2009 he received a five year sentence of imprisonment for arson.

Patrick Jackson BL, defending, said his client had been diagnosed with multiple conditions and that experts accepted he was sometimes delusional. He suggested sentencing principles were not the same when a person was not mentally healthy and asked the judge to be as lenient as possible.

Judge Nolan said the maximum sentence for arson is life imprisonment for good reason as when someone starts a fire no one knows where it will end. “People could have died but for the alert actions of one of the apartment occupiers,” he said.

He said Bradshaw was not insane, but rather that he was competent at the time. He said he seemed to be a danger to society and seemed to have a propensity for setting fires.

“Society must be protected and it seems there are difficulties in controlling Mr Bradshaw.”

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