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Driver set fire to stolen car when he saw gardai

A YOUNG man set fire to a stolen car and ran away from the scene after gardai spotted him in the driver's seat, a court heard.

Aaron Murphy (21) gave himself up after he realised gardai were chasing him.

Judge David McHugh sentenced Murphy to three months in prison, saying arson was the "highest end of thuggery".

The defendant, of Marewood Grove, Ballymun, admitted before Blanchardstown District Court to unlawfully using a stolen vehicle at Shangan Road, Ballymun, last April 4.

He also admitted causing criminal damage by arson to the vehicle in the same inci- dent.

Gda Brendan Casey said gardai were on mobile patrol at around 9.30pm when they came across Murphy driving a 1993-registered car. Gda Casey said Murphy stopped the car and set fire to it, causing nearly €350 worth of damage.

The officer said the defendant ran off but stopped and gave himself up at the end of the road when he realised he was being chased by officers.

The court heard Murphy has 17 previous convictions and he was "out of his head on the night in question".

Defence lawyer Lisa Daly said this incident was the catalyst to Murphy sorting himself out and he has not come to garda attention since.

Ms Daly said Murphy was homeless at the time, had been hanging around with a bad crowd and had been abusing cannabis, benzodiazepine tablets and alcohol.

She said the defendant is now back living with his mother and is working.

The court heard Murphy did not know the car owner and it was a "random car he took and set alight".

Ms Daly also said Murphy was very sorry for his behaviour and was willing to pay for the damage he caused to the car.

Imposing a three-month sentence, Judge McHugh said he wasn't sure if the defendant's "spots had changed".