A PROFESSIONAL snooker player who has represented Ireland in the sport set fire to a house in Youghal after calling there at 11pm demanding compensation for damage allegedly done to his car earlier.
Aaron Tobin, formerly of 16 Chestnut Drive, Youghal, County Cork, and now living in Clonakilty, County Cork, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing criminal damage by fire to a house in Youghal on August 2, 2018.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan imposed a jail term of three years with the last year suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Tobin, aged 24, had two previous convictions for causing criminal damage.
The accused was ordered to pay €2,500 compensation to the family whose house was damaged, within three years of his release from prison.
He must do an anger management course in prison.
Defence barrister, Pádraig Langsch, said of Tobin, “He played snooker at a professional level and represented Ireland in the past. He realises his behaviour on the night was unacceptable. He apologises to everyone.
“This was impulsive rather than pre-planned.”
Sergeant John Sharkey outlined the background to the incident which occurred outside a house in Youghal.
The sergeant said there was never any animosity between the defendant and the family but he believed on this occasion that a young man in that family had caused damage his car.
He called that night and sought immediate financial compensation. When he was told this was not available he went back to his home and returned with a canister of petrol.
“He poured it around the porch and used a lighter to set a fire… The front porch did go up in a big shot of flames,” Sgt Sharkey said.
Fortunately, the family were upstairs looking out and they managed to bring the fire under control before the arrival of gardaí and the fire brigade.
Aaron Tobin came back again when the gardaí were present and threatened to cut the throat of the young man he blamed for damaging his car.
This alleged damage was referenced again in a probation report where the defendant said a cup had been thrown and it hit his car.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan said, “He committed a most serious offence. He is lucky he is not in court charged with a much more serious offence. The action of his victims in controlling the fire before the arrival of the emergency services saved Mr Tobin a much more serious outcome.
“Let’s be clear about it, what he did on the day is not an example of how to treat your neighbours, it is bizarre, it is quite shocking.
“The excuse was given of an earlier incident of throwing of a cup but that is not supported by the facts of the case as fairly outlined by Sgt. Sharkey.
“It was clearly premeditated. The court cannot accept it was off the cuff.”
The judge was concerned that the probation officer found him at high risk of re-offending.
The judge said the victims in the case were of such good and decent character that they had kept up good relations with the defendant’s family.