Teenager sentenced for burning down house with firework

The fire caused approximately €135,000 worth of damage to the home in Dublin 7
Teenager sentenced for burning down house with firework

Tom Tuite

A 14-year-old boy has been given a six-month deferred sentence for a stray firework arson that gutted a home in Dublin, causing approximately €135,000 worth of damage.

The boy pleaded guilty to arson and endangering life at the Children's Court in Dublin in connection with a house fire at Wellington Street, Dublin 7, on November 27th, 2020.

In November, the court heard he was on cannabis during a restorative justice meeting with his probation officer. The Probation Service was then permitted extra time to engage with the boy.

However, the boy, who cannot be named because of his age, spent the past month in the Oberstown detention centre after admitting he broke bail terms, after which he was released but ordered to obey conditions.

At the sentencing hearing, defence solicitor Brian Keenan asked the court to note the boy had already experienced a period of detention.

Review

Judge Paul Kelly gave the boy a six-month sentence but deferred it pending a review in November. The boy was readmitted to bail and must engage with the Probation Service.

At the resumed hearing in six months, the court will decide if the sentence should be activated or changed.

Earlier, Judge Kelly described photos of the fire damage as "shocking", stating the arson had caused "significant personal and emotional consequences", adding the boy "effectively burned the house down".

The boy admitted setting off the firework, which started the blaze through a window. However, he denied intentionally aiming it at the house.

Garda David O'Callaghan said three units from the Dublin Fire Brigade extinguished the fire which started in the sitting room at the front of the house.

The owner of the house was out the back with his partner when he heard a loud bang and saw smoke and flames coming from the sitting room.

He went back to alert his partner, and the two men, in their 50s and 60s, got out of house. The court heard that they were "made homeless for eight months" after facing a severe risk.

The older man had hearing difficulties and would not have heard the firework bang, the court heard.

Their home was insured to cover the €135,000 worth of damage, and although the couple did not suffer any physical injuries, they had "a huge amount of stress", Garda O'Callaghan said.

The couple had lived in the house since 1983, completing renovation work 15 years ago at the cost of €167,000.

Gardaí obtained CCTV footage following the incident and identified the boy, who made admissions and was apologetic.

The court heard his actions were "the height of immaturity", and the teenager could not have foreseen the outcome.

The court heard the boy had family problems and had begun smoking cannabis and "hanging around with the wrong people".

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