An Italian mime artist who came to Wexford for a part in Wexford Festival Opera is returning home without his car which was burned out in a vandalism attack.
Tomaso Santinon (37) who had a prominent non-singing role on stage in Adina which formed the Festival's finale double bill on Sunday night, arrived in Wexford for rehearsals on September 26 and parked his Fiat Panda in the Council car park at Ferrybank where there is a €2 charge on exit.
He was on Wexford quayfront at about 1 a.m. on Saturday, October 5, on the night of a hurricane when he saw blue lights flashing across the bridge and his friends joked that it might be his car but he thought no more about it.
On Monday, October 7, he walked over the bridge but couldn't find the vehicle in the car park where he had left it. 'I found a black stain on the ground where my car had been,' he said.
Tomaso, who drove from Italy for his Festival role and arrived in Wexford after an 'amazing journey', contacted the Garda station and eventually discovered that the car was gutted in a fire on October 5, with Wexford Fire Service called to put out the blaze and the vehicle subsequently removed to a local garage compound used by the gardai.
Tomaso, who is from Venice, had accident insurance on the car but was not covered for fire and theft. He contacted the Italian Embassy for assistance and was advised to consult a solicitor.
After 20 days, he said he was informed by a Garda that CCTV footage from Wexford Bridge that night showed two young males approaching Ferrybank around the time of the fire and efforts would be made to identify them.
Tomaso emailed Wexford County Council several times asking for permission to see the footage and was informed that his request would be passed on to a relevant official but then he heard no more. The local authority has responsibility for releasing CCTV images.
Tomaso said he feels ignored and insigificant following the loss of his car in a criminal act, as it appears to him that nobody cares and nothing is being done about it. The Fiat Panda was an older model and wasn't worth a lot of money but it holds a lot of memories and sentimental value for him.
He said he cried when he realised what had happened. 'I was crossing the bridge and I could see that the car wasn't there. I thought maybe the Council has taken it away because it was parked there too long. When I saw the black stain I started to cry.
'I cried when I was calling my girlfriend and my friend and when I was going to the Garda station. I cried a lot.'
'My friends and a lot of people have supported me but I feel very ignored by the gardai, the Council, by my Embassy. I think they are waiting for me to go back home and stop bothering them,' he said.
'I find it really unthinkable that someone can set a car on fire and nothing happens. It is a horrible thing to happen. It really surprised me. I did not expect a thing like this in Ireland,' he said.
'Tomorrow, two unpunished imbeciles with a lighter can become something even worse and more dangerous.
'Nobody called me after the fire and it would be pretty easy to trace a car owner with this number,' said Tomaso who found the registration plate when he went to Ferrybank to have a photograph taken at the scene last weekend.
He feels he was given the run-around wherever he went. At the Citizens Information Centre, he was told to go the Free Legal Aid Centre in order to make a small claims case, he said.
At the FLAC office, he was advised he would have to wait until November 21 to see a solicitor but he is flying back to Italy tomorrow (Wednesday).
At Wexford court, he said he was told that as his case is a criminal and not a civil one, he cannot lodge a small claim.
'I feel mocked and humiliated,' he said. 'The lack of concern has given me more pain that the fire itself.'
A Garda spokesman said an investigation is under way and certain enquiries have been carried out in relation to an incident of criminal damage to a car at Ferrybank shortly after 1 am on October 5.The spokesman said the vehicle was removed to a yard for examination and CCTV footage was recovered from the area.