Sunday 8 December 2019

Mother jailed for her role in events which led to an arson attack on a prison nurse's car

Fiona Ferguson

A WEXFORD mother has received a four year sentence with the final three years suspended for her role in events which led to an arson attack on a prison nurse’s car.

The court heard Fiona Ryan (37) did not carry out the arson attack but passed on the nurse’s address to another person after her husband, an inmate in Wheatfield prison who has been acquitted of all charges in relation to the arson, was put on disciplinary report by the nurse.

Ryan, of Riverchapel Lawns, Riverchapel Wood, Courtown Harbour, Gorey pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of arson on cars at Ms Orla Finn’s home on September 4, 2007. She has six previous convictions for road traffic offences.

Ms Finn’s BMW and her mother’s car which were parked outside her family home were both written off and she was left terrified by the attack which she felt was to intimidate her.

Fiona Ryan’s husband, William Ryan (53), was found not guilty by a jury following a five day trial last December of two counts of arson on the cars on September 4, 2007.

Mr Ryan was also found not guilty by direction of the trial judge on a further charge of using a mobile phone from Wheatfield Prison on September 3, 2007.

Judge Patricia Ryan noted that Fiona Ryan did not instigate the attack herself and is a carer for her four children and her elderly parents who live nearby. She noted the serious nature of the charge and the effect the crime has had on Ms Finn’s life.

She imposed a four year sentence and suspended the final three years on strict conditions.

Mr Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, handed in a letter of apology from Fiona Ryan, whom he said was sorry and remorseful. He said she had outlined she would never again allow herself to be dictated to or be bullied into doing something that was wrong.

He said her actions resulted from a "power relationship" in which she felt she had to follow instructions but now realizes she did not have to.

Mr Ó Lideadha submitted that there was "unusual factors at play" in this case. He said her admissions to gardai were of great significance.

He said Fiona Ryan had no knowledge of the actions that were to be carried out but had made inquiries and made the address known to another person.

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