Man tried to set fire to neighbour’s home

After a period of prolonged antisocial behaviour during which the windscreen of his car was smashed twice, a middle-aged law abiding Limerick man snapped and in a state of drink-fuelled delusion tried to set fire to the home of a completely innocent neighbour, a court heard.

Michael O’Donovan, aged 56, of 5 Emmett Place, St Joseph St, pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to a charge of arson at nearby Wolfe Tone St intending to endanger life and property.

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told that O’Donovan carried out the attack on April 2, 2015, after going to a shed where he got white spirits and brake fluid.

On soaking tissues with these substances, he lit and stuffed them in the letterbox of a house in nearby Wolfe Tone St.

The owner of the house was alerted when a smoke alarm went off. No damage was caused as the lighted tissues fell on tiles inside the front door.

Mark Nicholas, defending, said O’Donovan developed a nervous condition due to antisocial behaviour in the area during which his car was attacked and the windscreen smashed on two occasions. He installed CCTV at his home due to the attacks.

O’Donovan eventually snapped and reacted in an extraordinary way.

Mr Nicholas said after heavy drinking, O’Donovan got into a state of crazed delusion and carried out the attack on a house in a nearby street at the home of people who were completely innocent.

O’Donovan, he said, had a good history of hard work adding: “He behaved in a very dangerous way. At the time he was a very different man because of pressure on him which had nothing to do with the victim. The mind can be convinced of things and he could not take any more and he struck out. It was like a kettle coming to the boil, a pressure cooker. The injured party was completely innocent. Antisocial behaviour can erode sleep with noise at night and this can fray the nerves. All these matters came together in a perfect storm when the windscreen of his car was smashed two times. He snapped and he can thank his lucky stars that an alarm went off in the house.”

Judge Tom O’Donnell adjourned the case to February 8, 2017, and remanded the accused on continuing bail.

Accused carried out attack in state of crazed delusion, says defence counsel


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