A YOUTH who set fire to a house following a row with his mother has been sentenced to three years imprisonment.
During a sentencing hearing, Judge Carroll Moran said it was a matter of “great concern” that there was no explanation for the defendant’s actions.
Earlier this year, Ryan Whelan, aged 20, of Beechwood Drive, Ballingarry pleaded guilty to a charge of arson relating to a fire at Lisamote, Ballingarry more than two years ago. The alarm was raised shortly before 5pm on March 25, 2011 when a neighbour saw flames and smoke at the house, which is located around three miles outside Ballingarry village.
“The house was completely destroyed, it was gutted,” said Detective Garda Jerry O’Sullivan, who was involved in the investigation.
Judge Carroll Moran was told that earlier on the day of the fire, Whelan had a row with his mother as they were travelling into the Crescent Shopping Centre in Limerick city. The defendant got out of the car and as he was making his way home, came across the house, went inside and set a mattress and couch on fire using a cigarette lighter.
Whelan, who was aged 17 at the time of the offence, told investigating gardai he was “off his head on tablets” and was in a bad mood because his mother had “annoyed” him. D
et Garda O’Sullivan said the owner of the house had been renovating it in order to rent it out and that the damage caused was more than €189,000.
In her victim impact statement, the owner of the house said the property, which had been in her family for more than 70 years, was of huge sentimental value and that the fire had caused her and her family a huge amount of stress afterwards.
Imposing sentence, Judge Moran said he was pleased that Whelan does not suffer from any mental illness and he noted that he had made admissions to gardai.
However, he said arson is one of the most serious criminal offences and he commented that the owner of the house had suffered a huge loss.
The judge also noted that Whelan has a number of previous convictions for criminal damage. He imposed a five year prison sentence, suspending the final two years.