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Suspect in bookies arson was jailed for shooting garda

A DANGEROUS criminal who is suspected of committing an arson attack on a bookmakers' shop while two employees were inside had previously been jailed for shooting a garda.

The suspect was arrested yesterday and was being held at Rathfarnham Garda Station.

Sources have revealed that gardai quickly identified the chief suspect for the attack at the Ladbrokes shop in Killinarden, Tallaght.

The drama unfolded at 5.30pm on Monday when a man, whose face was covered with a scarf, entered and demanded cash. He then poured petrol on the counters and set the shop alight with the staff still inside.

The arrested man is a local career criminal who is aged in his early 40s and is a well-known heroin addict.

He previously served a lengthy prison term for shooting an off-duty detective in the hand during his third armed robbery of a Dublin petrol station in a week.

"This fella is completely off the wall -- those two women could easily have been killed.

"It was completely reckless thing to do and it showed a complete disregard for human life," said a source.

The man is currently facing a number of charges at the courts including criminal damage.

On Monday evening, he entered the Ladbrokes shop armed with a knife and a bottle of petrol and demanded money.

At the time one female staff member was cleaning while the other was working behind a security counter.

When the staff refused to give the man money he doused the till area of the shop with petrol and started a fire before fleeing.

In the panic that ensued, the female employee who had been working on the shop floor ran out and got help where a man who was parked at a nearby chemist was alerted.

A source said: "He ran inside to save the girl who was locked behind the screen with no key for the only door out -- she was trapped by the security screens.

"He broke down one of the security screens and dragged the girl out over the counter. They both went to hospital suffering severe smoke inhalation."

The duo have since been discharged from Tallaght Hospital.

Gardai say CCTV played a role in identifying the suspect.