Monday 18 November 2019

Man acquitted of carrying out an arson attack on a prison nurse's home

Declan Brennan

A WEXFORD man accused of carrying out an arson attack at a prison nurse’s home after a row over haemorrhoids cream has been acquitted by a jury.

William Ryan (53) had complained to prison authorities that the nurse had given him a sachet of sun cream instead of the Anusol cream he asked for.

He was accused of organising the burning out of two cars from his cell in Wheatfield Prison, where he was serving a sentence for public order offences.

Mr Ryan of Ballygarett, Gorey had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to using a mobile phone from Wheatfield Prison on September 3, 2007 and to carrying out two counts of arson on cars outside the south Dublin home of Nurse Officer Orla Finn the following night.

After a little over two hours of deliberations the jury of four men and eight women unanimously found Mr Ryan not guilty of the two counts of arson.

Yesterday Judge Patrick McCartan directed the jury to find Mr Ryan not guilty of using the mobile phone from prison after ruling that there wasn’t enough evidence to support this charge.

Judge McCartan told Mr Ryan he was free to go and Mr Ryan said “thank you” to the court.

During the trial the jury heard that two days before alleged arson attack Ryan had asked prison officers on a number of occasions for a cream to treat haemorrhoids.

Nurse Finn said she handed him a sealed box of Anusol cream from a locked prison pharmacy. She said that Mr Ryan was aggressive and snapped the box out of her hands and told her: “I hope you get cancer and die”.

She made an official complaint to the prison governor, Seamus Creamer and Mr Ryan was put on disciplinary report.

Mr Ryan told Mr Creamer that the nurse had given him a packet of Ambre Solaire sun cream inside the Anusol box instead of the piles treatment cream.

Mr Creamer gave evidence that Mr Ryan then handed him the Anusol box, an applicator and a small packet of Ambre Solaire sun cream.

Mr Creamer said that Mr Ryan appeared agitated and told him that he knew where the nurse lived because he used to be a neighbour of hers.

During recorded calls from the prison phone system Ryan told his wife, Fiona Ryan, “I want something done” after telling her that he had being put on report.

After his arrest Mr Ryan accepted that it was him on the recorded phone calls. He told gardai that he wanted someone to “have a word with” Ms Finn.

Analysis of phone traffic on the day before the attack showed a number of calls between a mobile phone in the area of Wheatfield prison and a mobile phone registered to Fiona Ryan.

On the following night Ms Finn's elderly mother, who lives with her daughter, raised the alarm after seeing a fire in front of their home.

A plastic petrol can was left on top of Ms Finn's car. The fire destroyed both her car and her mother's Nissan Micra and the front of their home was damaged by smoke. Ms Finn said she was left terrified in her own home after the alleged attack.

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