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Dad set fire to neighbour's home in rage over 'kiss'

A MAN set his neighbour's house on fire in a jealous rage after he heard that his wife had allegedly been kissing the other man, a court heard.

James Long (39) pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to one count of arson in the early hours of January 1, 2011.

The owner of the property at O'Malley Park, John Keane, was not in the house at the time of the blaze, which caused extensive damage to the ground floor.

State prosecutor John O'Sullivan told the court that, events occurred around 5am and that Mr Keane -- who was out socialising -- received a phone call alerting him his house was on fire.

When he arrived home, the house was ablaze and gardai were "alarmed" because they thought that somebody might have been inside.

James Long then appeared and knocked Mr Keane to the ground. In garda interviews following his arrest for public order, Long admitted the arson.

"It was a crime of passion. My daughter said my wife was wrapped around a different fella," Long told gardai.



APOLOGIES

"My humblest apologies to everyone who got hurt," Long later added.

Mr O'Sullivan said Long entered Mr Keane's house to confront him and had "lit a curtain with a lighter but didn't mean to cause so much damage".

"He set fire to the house as he was under the impression John Keane was involved in improper behaviour with his wife," Mr O'Sullivan added.

Mr Keane -- who told gardai he only gave Long's wife "a Christmas kiss" -- had purchased his house for €8,000, but had no house insurance, the court heard.

Judge Carroll Moran said there was "no reason to assume that John Keane was not an innocent victim".

The court was told that Long is now separated from his wife because of what had happened.

Judge Moran adjourned sentencing until June 14, to allow the State time to discover how much financial loss Mr Keane had sustained because of the damage to his home.

hnews@herald.ie


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