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Daughter sets fire to house of bad memories

A mentally ill woman set fire to her own house because it contained "too many bad memories", Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

Rebecca Delaney (33) destroyed the interior of her house and damaged the neighbouring home to such an extent that the young family living there had to move out.

She will be sentenced in November after Judge Tony Hunt remanded her in custody, noting, "she is a risk to herself and the community".

Delaney, of Brookview Rise, Tallaght, admitted arson at her then home at Rosewood Grove, Lucan, in January 2009 and said she started the fire because her parents had died in the home and it was "bad luck".

The fire and smoke spread to the house next door, home to an eight-month-old baby. Both houses are now uninhabitable.

Det Garda Padraig Jennings told Dominic McGinn, prosecuting, that Delaney said she had started the fire with a lighter and a piece of paper. She left the burning paper on a couch and walked to church "to see the Scared Heart".

The young couple in the house next door woke to the sound of windows breaking.



Flames

They called gardai and then noticed smoke coming from their attic door. Another local called the emergency services after seeing flames and smoke billowing from Delaney's home as he passed. Firefighters searched her home but found no one inside. They found the source of the fire in a back room and evidence of alcohol consumption.

A garda met Delaney on the road. She asked if she could go inside her home but the gardai refused as it was a crime scene. She then asked if she could sit in his patrol car as reporters had gathered outside the house.

He took her to the garda station and in the car she admitted starting the fire. She said she had lived in the house since she was nine and both of her parents were dead. She said they died in the house and it contained "too many bad memories".

"Is the house gone? God I hope it is," she said. "There was no one hurt, that's the main thing." Marie Torrens, defending, said her client suffered from mental health issues and had stopped taking her medication in the months before the fire.

hnews@herald.ie


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