A judge said that two men behaved outrageously when intimidating a female garda by burning out her private car.
The destruction of Garda Áine Troy’s Renault Mégane saloon car at Scariff Garda Station on March 19, 2013, occurred after a car had been seized for not having tax or insurance.
Judge Gerald Keys imposed a suspended three-year jail term on father of three Neil Kelly, aged 40, of Bohatch, Mountshannon, Co Clare, who pleaded guilty to arson. He also imposed a three-year suspended sentence on Brian Moloney, aged 36, also of Bohatch, Mountshannon, who pleaded guilty to arson and criminal damage to Scariff Garda Station, where two windows were broken.
The judge suspended the sentences as the accused offered a combined total of €11,200 to Garda Troy.
Counsel for the State, Stephen Coughlan BL said most of the money will be paid to Garda Troy’s insurance company, the fire service, and other State bodies.
Judge Keyes said: “Both parties were fuelled with alcohol and behaved in an outrageous manner by intimidating a garda carrying out her lawful duties. This is a very serious matter.”
The judge said both men had also taken “huge steps to rehabilitate themselves and that always impresses me”.
Kelly and Moloney had been passengers in a car searched by Garda Troy at a service station. The officer was alone when the car was seized, and sought assistance, but was told it would take 10 minutes for back-up to arrive.
Detective Sergeant Oliver Nevin said Moloney had stated: “A lot can happen in 10 minutes.”
When told the car was being seized, Moloney told another garda at the scene: “You’ll see a silver spark later and you will know who did it...I would not have stopped for her [Garda Troy] anyway if I was driving.”
Det Sgt Nevin said Garda Troy felt very vulnerable and intimidated at the scene.
He said Moloney and Kelly went for a drink in a local pub and a barman observed that they were quite annoyed over the car being seized.
He said a short time later, a Garda mobile patrol witnessed Garda Troy’s car engulfed in flames.
Det Sgt Nevin said: “Neil Kelly does admit that he did sprinkle the front of the car with petrol and at that stage, the car was set alight.”
The fire service bill alone was €1,994.
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