Saturday 21 April 2018

Man who held knife to friend's throat before starting fire in home remanded on bail

Sonya McLean

A man who held a knife to his friend's throat and threatened to kill him before starting a fire in his home has been remanded on bail pending sentence next October.

Derek Aylmer (39) also threatened to also take his own life during the six hour incident on Christmas night 2013.

He had been living in his friend, Gerard Sheridan's house at the time and has since returned to live there again.

Aylmer pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage at the house in Walkinstown Road, Dublin. He has no previous convictions.

Mr Sheridan, an addiction counsellor, took the stand as a defence witness and told Caroline Biggs SC defending, that he understands that Aylmer suffers from depression.

He said, however, that he believes that the man is “even better today than he had been previous to the incident”.

Mr Sheridan assured Judge Martin Nolan that Aylmer has made amends for his behaviour and he feels safe living in the same house as him.

“I didn't see his intentions (that night) as being malicious. I felt he was lonely over Christmas. He had not visited anyone over Christmas. I had visited people that day and he may have resented me or have been jealous of me,” Mr Sheridan said.

“I felt it was more an internal thing. It was never seen before by me and has never been seen since. It was totally out of character,” the witness continued.

He told Judge Nolan that Aylmer has since become more aware of his depression, has engaged with the appropriate services and tends to look for help now rather than “internalising his depression” as he had been doing.

“Rather than a crisis situation arising, he is more aware now of when he is unwell and looks for help,” Mr Sheridan told the court before he agreed with Ms Biggs that Aylmer is on the waiting list for an alcohol awareness programme.

Mr Sheridan told Judge Nolan that he has “faith” in the man's recovery and he believed that time Aylmer spent in prison on remand awaiting sentence was “a short, sharp shock” for him.

He said the man now spends his time maintaining the house and helping him to re-decorate it from the damage the fire caused.

Judge Nolan adjourned the case to October to allow for Aylmer to be assessed for suitability for community service.

He described Mr Sheridan's evidence as “very helpful and very forgiving” and said the man had convinced him not to imprison Aylmer.

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