Cigarette butt discarded in bin during Cork burglary led to €173k fire damage

Now a homeless man has been sentenced to two years in prison. 
Cigarette butt discarded in bin during Cork burglary led to €173k fire damage

"He was smoking in the premises and he discarded a cigarette in a bin. It took light about an hour after he left." Stock image. 

A 52-year-old homeless man who got into a premises in Cork city on a very wet night discarded a cigarette butt in a bin before he left - causing €173,000 worth of fire and smoke damage.

Now Rodney Haynes has been sentenced to two years in prison for that arson in March 2019 and for a burglary the following October.

The two most serious charges relate to burglary and arson at 35 Cornmarket Street, Cork. Detective Garda Padraig Harrington said Haynes entered the property on Cornmarket Street at 10.45pm on March 5 and stayed there for one hour and 45 minutes.

“The weather was horrendous – it was lashing rain. I think he was looking for shelter. 

"There was no sign of a forced entry,” Det. Garda Harrington said.

While there he stole four laptop computers and assorted computer accessories.

“He was smoking in the premises and he discarded a cigarette in a bin. It took light about an hour after he left,” the detective said.

Almost no memory of incident 

Haynes was staying nearby in a tent at Pope’s Quay and when gardaí went there the following morning they found all of the computers that he had stolen.

€173,000 worth of fire and smoke damage was caused to the premises which was covered by insurance.

When questioned about it, Haynes had almost no memory of it and did not know why he took the computers as he had no use for them. 

The detective said, “I don’t think the arson was deliberate, it wouldn’t be in his history.” 

Other offence 

In another offence on October 12 2019 he smashed a window at a house on College Road and stole two laptop computers, a iPod and a bottle of beer belonging to a young woman who was out at the time. Blood on a handrail and a wall at the student’s home was matched to Haynes’s DNA and again it appeared that Haynes had no memory of it.

Det. Garda Harrington said the 52-year-old was generally homeless around the city and had a serious alcohol addiction. The detective said that on checking the previous convictions for Haynes it appeared that between 1983 and this year there were only two years when he did not receive some kind of prison sentence and that he might even have been in custody for some portion of those two years also.

Defence barrister Brendan Kelly said the accused had pleaded guilty to the charges and that in effect there was no reason for him to carry out the crimes he committed.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “On a human level it is very tragic that this man has in effect given his life away to addiction. 

"At 52 there is hardly a year he has not been in jail. And he is no nearer starting recovery than he was at 14.

“The arson was reckless rather than intentional.” 

An overall sentence of two years was imposed.

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