'The pure madness of drugs' - Addict jailed for setting fire to stolen school bus in Youghal

A garda told the court that 'it was a pure random act'.
'The pure madness of drugs' - Addict jailed for setting fire to stolen school bus in Youghal

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a three-year sentence for the arson of the school bus and suspended the last year of that sentence. File photo

A school bus was stolen and set on fire for no apparent reason and now the man who committed the arson has been jailed for two years.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed the sentence on Rhys O’Connell who carried out the crime in Youghal but had an address at Mochua’s Terrace, Clashmore, County Waterford.

The same young man crashed a car at high speed into the front of a house at Ash Street, Youghal, causing so much damage to the house that there were initial concerns about the front wall collapsing if the crashed car was removed, Judge Ó Donnabháin recalled.

Rhys O’Connell appealed a nine-month jail term in respect of charges arising out of that crash which occurred on July 7, 2018, at Ash Street, Youghal. Judge Ó Donnabháin affirmed that sentence today.

He then imposed a three-year sentence for the arson of the school bus. He suspended the last year of that sentence.

The judge said: “If you boil it down it is really outrageous, no matter how drunk he was he identifies and takes possession of a school bus – he took it and set it on fire.

“Can you imagine the aggravation that caused the owner who had purchased it, done it up and then had to claim a few pounds from the insurance and at the end of it he is at a loss of about €6,000 – an ordinary, hard-working, industrious provider of a service to the community of Youghal.

There is nothing behind this only the pure madness of drugs. He has a long history of being addicted to drugs.

Detective Garda John O’Donovan said that on the night /morning of November 10/11, 2019, there was a burglary of a premises at the Foxhole in Youghal where the Mercedes bus was stolen and set on fire.

On the same night the defendant used an iron bar to smash the rear windows of two parked cars.

When Judge Ó Donnabháin was first told that it was a school bus that was burned out he asked if there was some reason for this offence. Det. Garda O’Donovan said: “It was a pure random act. Drugs would be an issue. He was highly intoxicated and on drugs.”

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