Company director found guilty of arson

The 47-year-old man from Passage West who denied arson causing €200,000 worth of damage to a building where his company had its business was found guilty yesterday.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court File photo

One of the jurors became ill during the week-long trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. All 11 of the remaining jurors — three women and eight men — were unanimous in the guilty verdict they returned after approximately two hours of deliberation yesterday.

David Healy, of Tig na Mona, Rathankar, Passage West, Co Cork, denied a charge of arson at Munster Air Compressors — a company of which he was a director — at Kilbarry Cottages, Dublin Hill, Cork, on December 16, 2014.

Pearse Sreenan, prosecuting, reminded the jury that defence counsel Elizabeth O’Connell had challenged the evidence of Detective Garda Derry Griffin and her contention that it may have been an accidental fire.

However, Mr Sreenan said Det Garda Griffin had 30 years of scenes of crime experience and was firm in his view in this case that it was arson, and that six separate seats of fire were found at the scene.

Before the jury retired to consider their verdict on the single count of arson, Judge Gerard O’Brien explained the concept of circumstantial evidence whereby one individual strand might not support the case but that several strands wound together like cords in a rope could make a sufficient case.

Afterwards, the judge thanked the jury for the keen attention they had given to a complex case and he exempted them from jury service for a period of six years.

Ms O’Connell asked for the accused to be remanded on bail pending sentence. Mr Sreenan said the State was opposed to bail following the change to Healy’s status as a result of the jury verdict.

Judge O’Brien remanded Healy in custody for sentence on June 5, repeating that the defendant’s status had changed dramatically as a result of the verdict.

“I will order a probation report. Arson is viewed by the legislature as one of the most serious crimes. The fact that he has put people in danger with the setting of a fire it is a serious offence and it has to be marked.”

Ms O’Connell then asked the judge if he would allow the accused out on continuing bail if only until tomorrow to give him an opportunity to put his affairs in order.

Mr Sreenan said the state was opposed to that.

The judge said: “It is a very very serious offence. He is remanded in custody until June 5.”

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