A teenager who set a fire in an apartment building to keep warm and left it smouldering ended up causing €3.6m in criminal damage.
Kenneth McInerney, aged 18, was only 15 at the time of the offence.
He was arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday and pleaded not guilty. His trial opened in the morning. Shortly after lunch, he changed his plea to one of guilty to arson.
The charge stated that on Dec 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. Sentencing was adjourned until Nov 28.
Dermot Sheehan, prosecuting, told Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin and the jury at the opening of the trial it would be alleged McInerney was interviewed by gardaí and made certain admissions about starting a fire.
“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. He lit the fire to keep warm. He let it smouldering.
“He says it was a silly thing to do, the prosecution says it was a reckless thing to do. It is for you to decided if it was reckless or nor.”
During the brief evidence presented to the jury, it emerged McInerney went to Atkins Hall with another teenager. The jury was told the complex was part of the building jurors might have known better as the former St Anne’s hospital on Lee Rd.
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 established that the damage amounted to €3.6m.
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