A man who admitted destroying a neighbour's car with a hatchet, criminal damage and arson had his case adjourned at Kilkenny Circuit Court.
Adrian Cummins, 70 Fiadh Mor, Abbeylands, Ferrybank pleaded guilty to criminal damage and possessing a hatchet at his home address on April 8 and to arson at the same address on April 30.
Garda Mick Canavan said that on April 8 at approximately 12.30pm gardaí received a call and were dispatched to the incident. Gardaí observed that a van had been extensively damaged and that the window and panel were damaged and that a hatchet had been used. Onlookers told gardaí that the male with the hatchet had gone into the house.
“When I looked in the window I observed a man sitting on a chair with a hatchet in his hand and I asked him to come out,” the garda said.
The garda then went to the front door and discovered that it was locked. He returned to the window and saw the male with tablets in his hand and became concerned for the male's safety. He broke the window with a baton and gained entry to the property, which was rented by the defendant at the time, and arrested the male.
The court heard that on April 30 the fire services received a call reporting that a house was on fire at Fiadh Mor. Garda Canavan told the court that when he arrived at the scene he could hear a fire alarm.
“As I exited the patrol car I saw Mr Cummins sitting outside - he had one hand in his pocket and he was drinking out of an open container. I asked him if he was okay.
“He said, ‘I’m not well, Mick. I lit a fire in the upstairs bedroom. I am all alone’.”
The court heard that the defendant told gardaí that he wanted medical attention.
Garda Canavan told gardaí that he spoke to the owner of the property and that the damage that the insurance company paid was €33,000.
The court heard that Cummins, who has two previous convictions, was arrested and was compliant and 'somewhat bewildered’.
The victim of the arson said that she found the incident was 'very stressful' and that the work on the house following the arson took four months to be completed.
Defence barrister, Michelle de Bruin put it to the garda that at the time of the incidents her client was 'suffering from a mental disorder'.
The court heard that the defendant has had difficulty with alcohol and mental health for over 20 years. Following the incidents the defendant went into a 12-week alcohol recovery programme at Cuan Mhuire. Ms de Bruin said that her client has been sober for the past six months and had not come to garda attention.
A letter of remorse was handed into the judge and there was evidence that is defendant is now attending counselling and AA.
The judge remarked that 'criminal damage is not just banging something with a hatchet' but it is about the damaged caused to the owner.
In relation to the arson the judge remarked on the impact that it had on the owner.
“She no longer rents to the council. It is one more horse that is no longer available for people on the housing list.
“Your actions on both days risked serious injury and death to many people and could have risked death to members of the emergency services,” he said.
“The court is satisfied that you recognises what you have done and the consequences of your actions and of your remorse,” he said.
The judge also acknowledged that the defendant had co-operated fully with the gardaí and the Probation Services and that the actions were '’quite clearly impulsive in nature'. He remarked that sending the defendant to prison would do him no good and agreed with the recommendation of the Probation Service to adjourn the matter for 12 months.
“I am making no commitment as to what this court will do as these offences are very serious and you put your neighbours lives at risk,” he added.
He adjourned the case to November 22 to set a date for next year and imposed a number of conditions including that the defendant remain free of all intoxicants, have no contact with his victims, sign on daily at his local garda station, continue to comply with the Probation Service and comply with a curfew from 10pm to 8am.