Arsonist avoids jail for attempted €200k fraud

A Cork company director who hiked his insurance coverage before setting his own premises on fire and then trying to claim €200,000 insurance received a 10-year suspended jail term yesterday.

Arsonist avoids jail for attempted €200k fraud

One of the terms of the suspensions of a seven-year jail term for arson and a consecutive term of three years for attempted fraud was that David Healy, 47, would pay €33,000 to the State within one month.

Healy, of Tig na Mona, Rathankar, Passage West, Co Cork, denied a charge of arson at Munster Air Compressors at Kilbarry Cottages, Dublin Hill, Cork, on December 16, 2014. He was a director of the company.

A jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict after approximately two hours of deliberation two months ago. Healy was remanded in custody for sentencing.

Having denied the insurance charge last month, he asked to be re-arraigned on the charge of attempted deception by attempting to obtain a payment from FBD Insurance on January 8, 2015.

For the first time, Healy confessed to that crime.

He faced sentencing for both charges yesterday, having spent two months in custody.

Judge Gerard O’Brien backdated the total 10 -year term to May 15, when Healy went into custody and suspended the remainder of the sentences from yesterday.

Healy walked free from court after his two months in jail.

Judge O’Brien referred to Healy’s elaborate web of deceit in carrying out the crime and the excellent garda investigation which followed.

The judge noted that Healy had the contents insured for €52,000 but increased the cover in 2014 to €350,000, which he described as a sevenfold increase, making the arson and attempted deception entirely premeditated.

“This was not impulsive, it was carefully planned,” the judge said.

“He is remorseful and accepts the error of his ways.”

Judge O’Brien referred to the elaborate nature of the arson, where six different seats of fire were set up with various materials, including vegetable oil and shredded paper. The judge said the fact that children were playing on the street outside was an aggravating factor in terms of the recklessness.

Detective Garda John Gleeson said it was estimated that the maliciously started fire would have taken one to two hours to physically lay out the scene in the interconnected industrial units to cause the damage.

There were six seats of fire over the two floors, and included the placing of wooden pallets over a machine with bags of shredded paper.

When interviewed, Healy claimed he had been at home at the relevant time. However, his car was seen on CCTV in the area.

Elizabeth O’Connell SC said FBD did not pay out money on foot of the claim. She said that, as owner of the equipment in the building, Healy was the one at a loss. She said his father owned the building and he was at a further loss as a result of the defendant’s actions.

Ms O’Connell said that not only would Healy bear the loss, but the impact on him in his standing in the business community and socially was devastating.

Meanwhile, Jackie McMahon, chief claims officer at FBD Insurance, yesterday said

attempted “insurance fraud is not a ‘victimless crime’ and costs every honest citizen in the price they pay for insurance.”

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