Jail for trying to set fire to buildings

A 40-year-old man who tried to set fire to three multi- million euro buildings in Cork City had no regard for the consequences of his actions, a judge said yesterday as she jailed him for a year.

Anthony West, of 7 Popham’s Rd, Cork, was sentenced by Judge Marie Keane at Cork District Court to a total of 12 months in jail backdated to June, as he was arrested and remanded in custody since then, on the arson charges.

Insp Finbarr O’Sullivan said West broke windows at the various premises, lit firelighters, and threw them in.

The inspector said it was only fortunate that the firelighters burned out before the fires took hold in the buildings.

One of them was a building at the Lee Rd waterworks, which controls the main water supply for the entire city. The inspector said a fire there could have had serious consequences.

It was heard that one of the other properties — the HSE building on Model Farm Rd — would have contained important documents and computer records related to medical care and that fire damage could have been a very serious matter.

The judge noted from a psychiatric report prepared on West while in custody the conclusion that he still did not appreciate the consequences of his actions.

“I am left with no option but to impose a custodial sentence to protect society,” Judge Keane said.

The third building where West admitted causing property damage was at the OPW building on Centre Park Rd.

All three offences were committed on June 15.

Joseph Cuddigan, solicitor, said that West recently got an eight-month jail sentence for waving around an imitation handgun outside his home in Cork.

Mr Cuddigan said West had no animosity towards those who worked at the buildings.

He said the buildings were not occupied at the time and that very little damage was caused.

The solicitor said that the defendant had unresolved grief following the death of his mother in 2011 and the more recent death of his father.

“I think he wanted to be caught for this,” he said. “I think he wanted to be taken into some kind of state care.”

Insp O’Sullivan said that a witness saw West breaking windows at the HSE building and trying to start a fire and the gardaí were alerted.

Mr Cuddigan said West admitted the offences when interviewed.

He said West required a regime of medication to deal with his personality disorder and also needed to stay off alcohol and cannabis.

Mr Cuddigan said the accused was committed to staying on medication and off intoxicants.


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