Arsonist burglar loses appeal

A drug addict who burgled and burned the home of an 81-year-old widower, who had to be restrained by neighbours from retrieving memorabilia of his late wife from the blaze, has lost an appeal against sentence.

Martin Doyle, aged 25, of Mount Eden Rise, Gurranbraher, Cork, had pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to burglary and arson at the home of a then 81-year-old man on Blarney St in the city on October 15, 2014.

One year earlier, Doyle had been given a three-year sentence for robbery but it was suspended in full in the hope that he would deal with his heroin addiction.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin immediately reactivated the three-year suspended sentence and proceeded, on June 17, 2015, to impose a seven year sentence with the final two years suspended to run consecutively — leaving Doyle with a net sentence of 10 years with two suspended.

He lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence yesterday, with the Court of Appeal holding that the overall sentence “could not be described as excessive”.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the burglary and arson were “extremely serious” offences.

Mr Justice Sheehan said the victim of the burglary was now an 85-year-old widower who lived alone. He had left his home on the date in question to go shopping in Dunnes Stores.

When he returned, he was unable to get into his home and noticed smoke coming out of his roof. He managed to get the door open only to find house in flames and smoke, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

The then 81-year-old had to be restrained by neighbours from entering his home in order to save memorabilia from his life, particularly memorabilia of his late wife, the judge said.

The widower’s house had to be totally rebuilt and he was homeless for seven months. He was particularly concerned at losing memorobilia of his late wife. His insurance company was at a loss of €153,000.

Forensics disclosed that a fire was started in three different locations in the house, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

While the burglary on its own would not normally attract seven years, there can be no doubt that seven years in respect of the arson “could not be described as excessive”, Mr Justice Sheehan said.


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