Defendant (25) pleads guilty to setting fire to his parents' house

A 25-year-old man set fire to his parents' home in an apparent 'cry for help' has had has case adjourned to allow for various reports.

Colm McDonald, of Clonevin, Ballygarrett, Gorey, pleaded guilty to committing arson at Clonevin, Ballygarrett, on September 19, 2016.

Sgt Colm Matthews told Prosecuting Counsel Sinead Gleeson at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court that the defendant's parents had concerns about his behaviour around the time of the incident.

On the date in question the defendant was at home when he rang his mother to tell her he was going to burn the house down, while he also rang the fire brigade. The defendant's sister rang her father to tell him to ring the gardai, but by the time the gardai arrived, the house was on fire.

When the gardai arrived, Sgt Matthews said the defendant was out on the side of the road. The structural damage caused by the fire amounted to €5,000.

The defendant was arrested at the scene and brought to Gorey Garda Station. In the past the defendant had engaged with the Mental Health services. He had no previous convictions but has been in custody since September 20 last.

Defence Counsel John Peart said the defendant has been suffering from various mental health difficulties since the age of 16 and has been under the care of the Mental Health Services.

The defendant had been living in a hostel but was asked to leave. The defendant, according to defence counsel, had been trying to gain readmission to Newcastle Hospital but failed to do so. He started the fire 'as a cry for help', said Mr Peart.

'I do not suggest that he be released back to his parents. However, I ask the court to take a lenient attitude given the health issues involved,' said Mr. Peart.

Judge Barry Hickson said the court does not have jurisdiction to set out a regime. 'It's not clear to me if I was to release him today or next week what would become of him,' said Judge Hickson.

Judge Hickson said he would adjourn the matter so as to allow eveidence be brought from a doctor and the HSE which would be of assistance to the court and would suggest where the defendant might go.

Judge Hickson said he would remand the defendant in custody to February 21 next to also allow for the defendant to have a psychological report from Cloverhill Prison.

Wexford People

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