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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Judge blasts health and housing authorities for failing a man who committed arson on a Cork home

THE sentencing judge in an arson case has hit out at health and housing authorities for the lack of progress in addressing the particular intellectual disability and housing needs of the accused man.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “I have a report from his GP where he states that all the people who should be dealing with him have retired into their silos. This is exactly what happens.”

Defence barrister, Peter O’Flynn, said the mother of defendant, John Waij, hoped suitable accommodation would be located.

Mr O’Flynn said the defendant also had a key worker assisting him in the hostel where he has been living.

Judge Ó Donnabháin told the prosecution and defence that progress had to be made in the case so that sentencing could be finalised.

“I cannot live in a silo. I have to sort this out. I am running out of patience with the State as well [as the defence],” the judge said.

Sentencing was put back again until February 7 with John Waij on bail until then. 

John Waij, of Gould Street, Cork, who is now living at hostel accommodation in Cork, pleaded guilty to committing arson at the home of his neighbour on October 28, 2018.

Judge Ó Donnabháin previously said it was a difficult case that required balancing the needs of society and the needs of the defendant, who had mental health difficulties.

Garda Conor O’Callaghan said that gardaí were called to the street at 9am that morning when the fire service was extinguishing a fire at a flat roof section of the neighbour’s house.

“He had made a number of attempts to set fire to items of his own clothing which he threw on to the flat roof. There were three adults and a four-year-old child in that house at the time,” Garda O’Callaghan said.

There was evidence that the neighbours were terrified of another arson attack on their home and the possibility that they would not be as lucky if it happened again.

Peter O’Flynn said the defendant had an intellectual disability and autism.

The family had just moved in next door to John Waij and his mother and did not know them.

The fire damage was to a low felt roof at the back of a neighbour’s house. There was not a lot of damage, but it certainly put a lot of fear in the family living in the damaged property.

As well as the requirement to live at a hostel, stay away from Gould Street, have no contact with the injured party, and sign daily at Anglesea Street garda station, Waij must also abstain from intoxicants.