Libyan teen to be sentenced for arson threat

A Libyan teenager who threatened to follow an employee of the Refugee Reception and Integration Office home and burn down her house after his request for accommodation was refused has had his sentence adjourned.

Hisham Ali Saad (aged 19) became frustrated and overwhelmed at the asylum system following his arrival in Ireland alone a year ago after his brother was shot dead during an anti-Gadaffi protest in Libya.

Saad, with an address at Cliffview Accommodation Centre, Coast Road, Donegal, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to making a threat to kill or cause serious harm at the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, Lower Mount Street on July 15, 2008.

Judge Tony Hunt told Saad: “You are not going to help your case for asylum by behaving in this way. One wonders what would happen to someone in Libya acting in this way.”

Judge Hunt adjourned sentencing until February so Saad could liaise with the Probation Service.

He admitted Saad to bail on strict conditions including a good behaviour bond and gave liberty to reenter the case if he came to further notice of the gardaí.

Garda Stephen Nolan told Ms Anne Marie Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that Saad attended at the Reception and Integration Office seeking accommodation. A female staff member looked up his case and found he had been previously given accommodation by the office which he had left for behavioural reasons.

The woman told him he would not be given further accommodation and he became angry and left the centre. He returned later that day and there was further incident in which a plastic bottle was smashed.

Saad returned again the following day and requested a letter saying he was not being given accommodation. The woman refused and said she felt in fear of him.

A male colleague of the woman came to speak to her after Saad had left and told her Saad had threatened in his presence to follow her home and burn down her house with her inside it.

The woman told gardaí she had never had such an incident before and had changed her routine.

Saad, who has four previous convictions for theft, was arrested, made full admissions and expressed remorse.

Gda Nolan agreed with defence counsel, Ms Caragh Cunniffe BL, that there was security staff at the front door.

Ms Cunniffe said Saad had gone to the Department of Justice after the first encounter but they had been unable to help him and he had slept on the street that night before returning and making the threat the following day.

Ms Cunniffe said she “could not disagree” with Judge Hunt when he remarked that Saad was partly responsible for being put out of his previous accommodation.

She said he was “frustrated” at the asylum seeker process and being unable to work. She said he was angry at the system which he thought was treating him unfairly and found it difficult being moved around the country to different accommodations and felt “emotionally and physically alone” after being uprooted from Dublin.

She said he had spent some time sleeping in the Mosque in Clonskeagh but had returned to his accommodation.

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