News Courts

Thursday 14 November 2019

Paraplegic arsonist 'put everyone in care home at risk'

Gordon Deegan

A paraplegic man put everyone else at risk in a care home when he started a fire there three years ago, a court heard.

Judge Gerald Keyes said James Sherlock (24), of Childers Road, Ennis, Co Clare, had been receiving "five-star assistance" at the Lakes Nursing Home, Killaloe, Co Clare, and he put everyone else there at risk on August 20, 2010.

Det Sgt Oliver Nevin told Ennis Circuit Court that a 95-year-old female resident in the room opposite to Mr Sherlock died on the night as residents were being evacuated.

He said that the woman died from natural causes and not from the effects of the fire.

Counsel for the accused, Pat Whyms, said that Mr Sherlock leads an appalling existence having been rendered a paraplegic in 2008 due to complications from his addiction to heroin.

Mr Whyms said that Mr Sherlock, who pleaded guilty to arson, has sensory level only from the upper chest and told the court "this man's life is a living hell".

Mr Whyms said that Mr Sherlock had his right leg amputated below the knee in the weeks prior to causing the fire.

He said: "Mr Sherlock's state of mind was of considerable despair, depression and despondency after the operation."

He added: "The person he placed at risk in this was himself as he was sitting in the wheelchair that he set fire to. If it wasn't a suicide attempt, it was a cry for help."

Judge Keyes said the offence was very, very serious because of where it occurred.

He adjourned sentencing to April 9 to allow the probation service carry out a report.

Irish Independent

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