Wednesday 13 December 2017

Man avoids jail for setting fire to flat while four-year-old girl was sleeping inside

Jessica Magee and Conor Gallagher

A DUBLIN man who tried to set fire to his flat on Halloween night while a four-year-old girl was sleeping inside has avoided jail.

Dublin Circuit Court heard today that the man started the fire by igniting aerosol cans.

Father-of-three Peter Doyle (47) pleaded guilty to five charges including arson at an apartment on Slieve Bloom Road in Drimnagh sometime between October 31 and November 1, 2011.

There was a four year old girl in the house at the time.

Doyle, who still lives in the apartment, also pleaded guilty to criminal damage, producing a lit aerosol, possession of heroin and assaulting two gardaí by throwing boiling water at them.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Mary Ellen Ring suspended the two years sentence after noting that Doyle had “lost his head” on the night.

Garda Nathan Foley said Doyle had been out trick-or-treating with the four-year-old girl on Halloween night when a disagreement occurred with a neighbour.

Gda Foley told Lisa Dempsey BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were alerted and heard loud bangs coming from inside the house.

The front door was locked, and knowing there was a child in the house, two gardaí tried to communicate with Doyle from outside.

The gardaí then saw a glass panel being broken in the front door and flames coming from a lit aerosol canister.

They broke down the door and found the apartment filled with smoke.

Doyle emerged from the carrying a kettle with steam rising from it before throwing the contents at the two gardaí.

The boiling water only caught the top of the officer’s heads as they were carrying riot shields.

The gardaí extinguished two fires, one in the living room and one in a bedroom. The girl was found asleep under bedclothes in another bedroom.

Heroin was found under a mattress and in an ornamental ashtray under the TV. Doyle said the drugs were for his own use.

The damage to the glass panel in the door was estimated at €250.

Luigi Rea BL, defending, said Doyle told gardaí in interview that he had “lost his head” after the fall out with the neighbour.

He said Doyle had won €1,000 in a prize the previous day and had spent it on heroin. Doyle told gardaí he had not yet used any heroin on the night in question, but had drunk alcohol.

Mr Rea said that when his client realised that he had exposed his young relative to the dangers of fire, he took “huge steps” to change his life.

“It acted as a wake-up call,” he said.

The court heard that Doyle is no longer abusing heroin and is on prescribed methadone.

He is attending courses in adult literacy, computers and maths at the Addiction Response Crumlin Project.

Doyle has six previous convictions including road traffic offences, theft and possession of drugs.

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