Friday 24 November 2017

Man who set fire to front door of a house while his ex-partner and children were asleep inside is jailed

The couple broke up in November 2013.
The couple broke up in November 2013.

By Nicola Donnelly

A man who set fire to the front door of a house while his ex-partner and children were asleep inside has been sentenced to three years in prison.

John Paul McDonagh (32) had intended to frighten his ex-partner and her mother rather than injure them, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told.

McDonagh, of St Joseph’s Park, Dunsink Lane in Finglas, Dublin pleaded guilty to arson at Baskin Park, Stockhall Lane in Dublin 17 on July 22, 2014.

Garda Fergal Finnegan told Dean Kelly, BL, prosecuting, that Caroline Maughan was in a relationship with McDonagh for six years and they had two children together. However, they broke up in November 2013.

In the early hours of the morning of July 22, McDonagh arrived at her house and started to throw empty beer bottles at a bedroom window. Ms Maughan opened the front door and McDonagh shouted “That’s nothing until later on. Watch what happens then.” He then sped away in his car and Ms Maughan phoned the gardaí.

Later, Ms Maughan’s mother, Kathleen, who was sleeping in the sitting room, woke up as she heard McDonagh outside shouting. She realised the front door was on fire and woke Ms Maughan and the children.

Kathleen Maughan managed to put the fire out and gardaí found a red petrol container outside along with smashed beer bottles. CCTV footage showed McDonagh pouring fuel onto the door and setting it alight before running away from the house.

McDonagh, who has 65 previous convictions, “only did it to frighten” his partner, defence counsel John Noonan BL said.

“He was aware the fire was nearly extinguished as he left,” said Mr Noonan.

Mr Noonan said alcohol was a significant factor and McDonagh understands he was reckless and endangered his family.

Imposing a three year sentence, Judge Martin Nolan said McDonagh “must have realised he could have engulfed the whole house and could have ended up killing or injuring them.”

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