Teen arsonist caused €3.6m damage to flats

A teenager who set a fire in an apartment building to keep warm, causing €3.65m in criminal damage, was before the court for sentencing yesterday.

Kenneth McInerney, 18, was only 15 at the time he committed the offence.

He went on trial last year at Cork Circuit Criminal Court but later changed his plea to guilty to arson.

The charge stated that, on December 29, 2010 at Atkins Hall, Lee Rd, Cork, he committed arson in that he did, without lawful excuse, damage by fire two apartment, intending to damage the property or being reckless as to whether such property would be damaged.

Dermot Sheehan, prosecuting, said: “During the course of interview he admitted lighting the fire. He attempted to put out the fire. It was smouldering. He said it was a silly thing to leave it that way.”

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the arson was in the category of recklessness rather than intention.

McInerney was 15 when he and another teenager went to the Atkins Hall apartment building, which was locked up at the time.

The fire damage was caused to the second floor and extensive damage was caused to the roof.

Rory Kelly of Cork City Fire Brigade said it took 15 hours for several units of the brigade to bring the fire under control.

Tony O’Regan, quantity surveyor, said it was initially believed that the damage could have been anything from €3m to as much as €10m. However, it was later established that the damage amounted to €3.65m.

Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said McInerney had no tendency towards arson and that he had been reckless.

Brendan Kelly, defending a second case against McInerney, said he had a difficult background with very unfortunate circumstances and no great family support. He has kept out of trouble for the last number of years.

The second case arose out of a fight and McInerney admitted engaging in a public affray and assault causing harm to another youth.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said it was not an addiction problem but a housing one, as McInerney effectively had nowhere to go.

He imposed a 12-month sentence, backdated to when McInerney went into custody, and suspended from yesterday, for the fight. He remanded him in custody until February 24 for sentencing on the arson.


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