Limerick court hears that suspected arsonist was under ‘severe stress’

David Hurley


David Hurley

Patrick O’Donovan is accused of setting fire to a car at Aviary Car Park, Mount Kenneth on December 2, last

Patrick O’Donovan is accused of setting fire to a car at Aviary Car Park, Mount Kenneth on December 2, last

A MAN who is accused of setting fire to two parked cars in a multi-story car park in Limerick is to stand trial on indictment.

A book of evidence has been served on Patrick O’Donovan, aged 21, of Hyde Avenue, Prospect who faces a number of arson charges relating to an incident on December 2, last.

Opposing bail, Sergeant Donal Cronin said it will alleged the defendant entered the Aviary Car Park at Mount Kenneth and set fire to a parked car at around 4am.

It is the State case that having gained access to one of the cars, he got in and set the driver’s seat on fire with a cigarette lighter.

The car –  a 04-registered Renault Megane –  was completely destroyed in the fire while a second car – also a Renault Megane – was badly damaged.

“One of the vehicles was set alight in a deliberate act,” said Sgt Cronin.

Judge Marian O’Leary was told the fires broke out on the second floor of the car park and that the full extent of the damage caused is still being assessed.

The defendant was detained by gardai a short time after the incident when they encountered him on the Dock Road carrying a golf club.

Sgt Cronin said “a conversation took place” and that Mr O’Donovan was arrested after he made voluntary admissions “without prompting” in relation to the fire.

Opposing bail he said the comments the accused made in custody were a concern to gardai and that he was fearful the defendant would commit further offences if released.

He told the court that, if convicted, the defendant is likely to be “exposed to a sentence of some duration”. 

Sgt Cronin agreed with solicitor Sabina Hegerty that Mr O’Donovan was under “severe stress” at the time and that his alleged behaviour on the night was unusual and “somewhat strange in nature”.

He also agreed that he is not part of the garda investigation team but said he had fully briefed himself by reading the garda file and the book of evidence and by consulting with colleagues.

Ms Hegerty said her client has a number of issues in his life and that he has begun seeing a psychologist in recent months.

She told the court he was likely to spend a considerable length of time in custody before a trial date is set and that he was willing to abide by any conditions imposed by the court.

In response, Sgt Cronin said no conditions would alleviate his concerns in relation to the defendant.

Upholding the garda objection, Judge O’Leary refused bail.

Mr O’Donovan is expected to appear before Limerick Circuit Court later this week.