Man jailed for setting school bus on fire

The bus owner made a claim from his insurance company, but was about €6,000 out of pocket as he did not receive the full amount he had paid for it
Man jailed for setting school bus on fire

Olivia Kelleher

A father of two has been jailed for two years after he broke into a warehouse in which a school bus was stored, drove it away and then set it on fire.

Rhys O’Connell (32) of Clashmore, Co Waterford appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court in relation to the offence which occurred in November 2019 in Youghal.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain was told that Mr O'Connell did not know the owner of the bus, who had just bought the vehicle for €48,000.

Mr O'Connell did not furnish any explanation to the court for his actions.

Guilty plea

He pleaded guilty in the Cork Circuit Criminal Court to four charges - one of burglary and three of criminal damage including one in respect of the arson attack on the bus on November 29, 2019.

Mr O'Connell was caught on CCTV breaking into the warehouse in an industrial estate in Youghal on November 29th, 2019. He drove away from the warehouse shortly after 11pm on the date of the offence.

He was captured on camera in the town getting out of the bus and setting it on fire. After he set the bus ablaze, he crossed the road to the Millennium Industrial Estate where he smashed the windows of two parked cars.

The bus owner made a claim from his insurance company, but was about €6,000 out of pocket as he did not receive the full amount he had paid for it.

The judge said “Insurance companies are not known for their largesse in paying out such claims".

Insurance

Judge O'Donnabhain said there was no possibility of compensation being produced by Mr O'Connell given his unemployment status.

The court was told that O’Connell was highly intoxicated from drugs and drink on the night of the offences. He lives with his mother, has an addiction problem, and has 18 previous convictions for road traffic offences and drugs.

Judge O'Donnabhain said the bus owner no doubt experienced extreme aggravation from the insurance company who probably used “the book value” in assessing the loss.

He said: “This hardworking individual who provides a bus service in the town of Youghal is at loss of thousands."

The judge sentenced O’Connell to three years in prison but suspended the last year of the sentence.

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