A man who has no recollection of setting fire to the top deck of a bus - causing an estimated €109,467 worth of damage - has given a four year sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
David Mills (aged 22), of Oakley Road, Ranelagh didn’t realise the bus had been destroyed until friends told him three months later that they had seen him on the RTÉ Crimecall programme.
Mills had forged prescriptions for sleeping tablets and took the pills before he got on the number 49 bus on Dame Street in Dublin city centre on Valentine’s Night and was captured on CCTV footage gathering together newspapers, setting fire to them and placing a seat on top of them.
He then walked down the stairs and after standing beside the driver’s cab for a couple of minutes, he got off at the next available stop.
Mills pleaded guilty to damage by fire of the Bus Átha Cliath vehicle on February 15, 2006. He has 55 previous convictions, including criminal damage and burglary.
Judge Katherine Delahunt suspended the final year of the four year sentence and said that Mills should receive significant medical attention in prison.
Garda Paul Flood told Mr Remy Farrell BL, prosecuting, that it was not until after Mills got off the bus that three passengers on the top deck noticed smoke and alerted the driver to the fire. The bus was evacuated and nobody was injured.
The CCTV footage showing Mills starting the fire was aired on Crimecall the following April which led to his nomination as a suspect.
Gda Flood agreed with defence counsel, Ms Tessa Feaheny BL, that Mills has been doing a lot better since he was allowed bail last month to attend at a drug treatment centre.
He accepted that Mills had no memory of the incident when he was arrested for questioning but identified himself in stills from the CCTV footage on the bus.
Ms Feaheny said her client’s father was very ill at the time of the offence and he died some months later after taking an overdose.
She said Mills had felt guilty about his father’s death because he thought his own drug addiction didn’t make things any easier for him.
Ms Feaheny said Mills was not on a methadone programme in the treatment centre but was free of both alcohol and drugs. He is currently on antidepressants and anti-psychotic medication.