Saturday 18 November 2017

Man jailed for manslaughter after he caused the death of a homeless man

Declan Brennan

A MAN who caused the death of a homeless man by starting a fire in an underground car park has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Jamie Maguire (22) set a car alight because he wanted to cover his tracks after breaking into the vehicle to steal from it.

The fire quickly engulfed the apartment block car park and three people who had been sleeping rough there were injured.

John Donohue (44) died a few weeks later from his injuries. The court heard that the blaze cost an estimated €4.6m in fire damage to the building.

Maguire of Blackhall Street., Dublin 7 pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson and the manslaughter of Mr Donohue at Smithfield Gate apartments on Red Cow Lane on August 17, 2008.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Daly told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that Maguire was arrested later the same night on nearby Bridgefoot Street by a garda investigating the arson of two other cars on that street.

Maguire told gardai he had been drinking and taking pills earlier in the night. After a row with his girlfriend he left his friends and walked down Manor Street.

He said he went into the car park looking to steal something from a car. After breaking into the car and finding nothing to steal he decided to set fire to it to get rid of any fingerprints.

Maguire found a piece of clothing and used his own lighter to set fire to this. He told gardai he then noticed some people and decided he should leave.

The entire car park was consumed by fire and all the residents in the 67 unit apartment block had to be evacuated. Firemen searching for casualties had to use specialist equipment to see their way through the car park.

The deceased man and his girlfriend, Zara Toure, had gone into the car park for shelter at around midnight. Mr Donohue was found upright on his hunkers and it is believed he suffered greater injuries because he was awake and trying to escape the fire.

The deceased man suffered burns to half of his total body surface and inhalation injuries from breathing in smoke. He died on September 9 after his body went go into septic shock and his organs failed.

Ms Toure suffered burns to just over 8% of her body surface and significant inhalation injuries. A third victim, Mark Douglas, suffered 15% burns including flame burns to his face and hands. He had to have one finger amputated. Both of the survivors have had to get skin grafts.

After initially denying any involvement in the arson, Maguire told gardai he wanted to tell the truth and made full admissions after that.

The court heard Maguire has 29 previous convictions, including three for arson relating to the other cars he set alight after leaving the car park that night. He also has convictions for burglary and theft.

Aileen Donnelly SC, defending, said Maguire wished to express his deepest remorse to the family of Mr Donohue and to the other victims. Det Sgt Daly said Maguire had also apologised while in custody.

Defence counsel said that on the night Maguire didn’t consciously take the risk that the fire would damage people and that he simply had not thought through his actions.

Judge Martin Nolan said he had no doubt that Maguire did not intend to kill the victim or to cause the damage he caused but that he had behaved in a totally reckless manner.

He said Maguire destroyed the car for his own selfish reasons and that it was an obviously dangerous thing to do. He said it is no great defence that Maguire didn’t think about the consequences.

Noting Maguire’s young age, his guilty plea, his co-operation with gardai and the seriousness of the offence he said the appropriate sentence was seven and a half years. He backdated this sentence to July 9, 2010 to reflect time already spent in custody.

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