A sixteen-year-old girl staying at a home in East Cork for troubled teenagers set fire to her room causing €156,000 damage in the arson in January 2020 and the owner of the property has yet to receive any compensation.
The owner of the house who was renting it out to the organisation that was running the care home said his insurers rejected his claim to pay out for the damage. And he said those who were running it had “zero cooperation” with him.
“They adopted a policy of not replying to my solicitor. This house was built for the rest of my life.
“The tenant (running the facility) basically walked off the pitch and left me with nothing. It was my retirement plan and to pass it on to my children,” the owner of the East Cork house, Marcus Flynn said in a victim impact statement at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Mr Flynn said it caused him a lot of stress, sleepless nights and anxiety and it was also costing him financially in terms of ongoing litigation and loss of income.
Elizabeth O’Connell defence senior counsel said the defendant who was only 16 when she committed this arson on January 8, 2020 had not been in trouble before or since. The defendant had a lot of difficulties as a juvenile but was doing well now.
Judge Helen Boyle asked Ms O’Connell SC if the accused wished to apologise to the owner of the house. The defence lawyer said the juvenile grasped the extent of the damage she had caused and the distress to the owner and she apologised.
Detective Garda Cormac Bric said the 16-year-old was staying at the facility where a sitting room was being used by her as a bedroom. Cross-examined by Ms O’Connell, the detective accepted that the arson was an act of recklessness rather than intention.
Judge Boyle said she had no doubt the arson caused the owner of the property an awful lot of distress and noted he had been told that the civil matters could not proceed until the criminal aspect of the case was finalised.
The judge said that as well as causing extensive damage the 16-year-old could have caused loss of life or limb to others staying in the facility that night. Judge Boyle said it was fortunate this had not occurred.
In light of all the circumstances, the judge said a sentence of two years suspended was being imposed on the teenager on condition that she would abide by the directions of the probation service for two years and keep the peace.