Saturday 16 December 2017

Gardai probe after attempt to petrol bomb Ennis courthouse

Pat Flynn

Gardaí are investigating an attempt to petrol bomb a courthouse in Co Clare in the early hours of this morning morning.

The alarm was raised at around 3.45am when the security company received an alert from the fire system at Ennis courthouse.

Gardaí along with a staff member from the company responsible for security at the courthouse were contacted and arrived at the scene within minutes.

There was no immediate sign of a fire however as the security officer carried out a detailed walk around the complex, he noticed that a window in the family law court at the rear of courthouse had been smashed.

On further investigation gardaí and the keyholder detected a smell of smoke and evidence of an accelerant believed to be petrol. The fire service was alerted and two units from nearby Ennis station were sent to the scene.

A bottle, stuffed at the neck with a rag, was discovered on the floor inside the courtroom. The bottle had broken however while the carpet was damaged, the blaze failed to spread to the rest of the room.

Serious effort was required to smash through the reinforced security window so that the petrol bomb could be tossed inside.

Much of the basement area of the building including holding cells and other rooms were filled with smoke. Firefighters used specialist fans to ventilate the building and clear the smoke.

The main courthouse building was constructed in 1852 however the attack was targeted a courtroom in an extension at the rear of the of the complex.

Gardaí carried out door-to-door inquiries in the local area while footage from local CCTV camera systems was also being gathered as part of the investigation.

One camera is located over a rear entrance to the courthouse just feet from the smashed window while there are also cameras in a nearby playground.

The scene was preserved for the remainder of the morning pending the arrival of members of the divisional crime scene investigation unit.

A garda spokesman said: “We will be conducting house-to-house inquiries in the local area and will be canvassing CCTV footage from any local cameras. The scene will be examined by our technical team and our investigation is continuing."

Gardaí have asked anyone who was in the area of Ennis courthouse, Steele’s Terrace or Lifford areas to make contact with them if the saw anything or anyone suspicious between 3am and 4am.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Ennis station on 065 6848100, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

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