Extremely difficult case: Man desperate to be admitted to psychiatric services or prison

Extremely difficult case: Man desperate to be admitted to psychiatric services or prison

The judge wondered why a deeply disturbed young man looking for admission to hospital or prison ended up being reported to gardaí for it.

A young man who desperately wanted to be admitted to psychiatric services or to prison was told he would not be sent to either place and he responded by threatening to kick in a door or harm a person in order to get to jail.

John Waij, formerly of Gould Street, Cork, ended up before Cork Circuit Criminal Court today charged with threatening to harm the party who cannot be named.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin wondered why a deeply disturbed young man looking for admission to hospital or prison, who made this threat in hospital during the admission process, ended up being reported to gardaí for it.

The judge imposed no sentence and marked the threat as taken into consideration today with a suspended sentence for the offence of arson which he carried out in his neighbourhood.

Defence barrister, Peter O’Flynn, said there was never any intention by the young man to carry out the threat.

The accused admitted arson at his neighbour’s house. 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 Seán Ó Donnabháin previously said it was an extremely 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 9 a.m. that morning when the fire service were 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. 

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

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

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.

Defence barrister Peter O’Flynn previously said something was set alight and thrown on to the roof and that it was the defendant’s own mother who raised the alarm.

The judge imposed a three-year suspended jail term today. 

“Under anybody’s measure, this man is not suitable for prison,” he said.

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