Jail for man after petrol bomb bid to free girl

A young man threw a petrol bomb at a house in a desperate effort to force his girlfriend’s parents to let her out at night “in a Rapunzel-type endeavour”.

Jonathan Lonergan, aged 21, of 40 Ardcullen, Hollyhill, Cork, pleaded guilty to a charge causing criminal damage to a window and attempted arson of the house.

He was jailed for four years with half of the sentence suspended and backdated to January when he was admitted into custody.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Detective Garda Alan Johnson said the accused had been going out with a girl living in a house at Hollyhill Heights, Cork, for several days, but, on the night of May 23 last year, she was told by her parents she was not allowed to go out with him.

Lonergan decided to go to the house around 3am on May 24 with a bottle containing 50 cents worth of petrol.

He threw the glass bottle at the house. It caused damage to an upstairs window and smashed on the footpath in front of the house. A number of people were in the house at the time of this attack.

Investigating gardaí observed CCTV showing Lonergan filling the glass bottle with petrol at a garage.

“He was in some sort of relationship with the injured party’s daughter,” the detective said. “The parents refused to let her out in case she would be getting into trouble. The accused was making attempts to release her from the house. It was thrown against the upstairs window.”

The relationship ended that night.

Pearse Sreenan, prosecuting, said: “It was a Rapunzel-type endeavour to release this young lady.”

William Bulman, defending, said: “This was a relationship in its infancy. It was a case that the accused was alerted to the fact the daughter could not get out and he was encouraged [by her] to get her out somehow, maybe not in the way that he did, but this was the way he tried to release her from the house.”

Mr Bulman said the accused suffered anger management issues and had attempted suicide. “He has asked me to apologise to the family. He has had no contact with his former girlfriend since. He knows he needs to continue to get help under the care plan on his release from custody.”

The defence barrister said that since the accused went into prison, he had stayed out of trouble there.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said yesterday: “This is a very serious matter. This young man left the premises, went and got a bottle of petrol, came back and lit them and fired them at the house. It was fortuitous there was no actual damage. His reasons for doing it are not understood by anyone except himself, and are entirely misguided.

“He does have an anger management problem which is very evident. He is very impulsive and is regarded as a high risk of re-offending. He presents at times as emotionless with limited cognitive ability.”

The defendant expressed remorse in a letter.


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