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Three years in jail for man who destroyed homeless accommodation in arson attack

Gary Fitzgerald and his cousin Graham Fitzgerald both pleaded guilty to arson.

The apartment complex on the Greenhills Road in Tallaght which went on fire.
The apartment complex on the Greenhills Road in Tallaght which went on fire.

A MAN HAS been jailed for three years for his role in an arson attack at an apartment complex which was used to accommodate homeless people.

Gary Fitzgerald (19) was living with his cousin Graham Fitzgerald (21) next door to the apartment which went on fire in March 2015.

Gardaí have been unable to establish what caused the fire in the bedroom of the unoccupied apartment in a complex that was run by Focus Ireland for homeless people.

Gary Fitzgerald of Stocking Well Wood, Stocking Well, Ballycullen, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson at Green Hills Court Apartments, Tallaght on 26 March 2015. He has seven previous convictions including road traffic and assault.

His cousin Graham Fitzgerald also pleaded guilty to arson at his neighbour’s home in Green Hills Court Apartments on the same occasion and attempted robbery at Milano’s, Abberley Square North, Tallaght on 14 February 2016. Graham Fitzgerald has four previous convictions including criminal damage and public order.

The court heard that gardaí managed to evacuate the building and no resident was in immediate danger. Damage amounting to €45,000 was done to the apartment, mainly due to electric work and replacement furniture.

‘Extreme youth’

Judge Melanie Greally had adjourned the case until today after hearing the evidence last year to allow a probation report be prepared on Gary. She adjourned Graham’s case for a further two weeks until 9 February to see if a bed in a drug rehabilitation centre would be available.

Judge Greally said she had adjourned the case on the last occasion to give Gary a chance due to his “extreme youth” but noted he had continued to abuse drugs. She said she was giving him credit for his early plea and noted he had taken intoxicants prior to the offence.

She imposed a three year sentence and suspended the final six months. She ordered one year post release supervision.

Detective Garda Kieran McGrath told John Fitzgerald BL, prosecuting that gardaí were alerted to intruders at the Green Hill Court Apartments, on the Green Hills Road in Tallaght at 3am on 26 March 2015.

Arrests

It was established that Gary and Graham Fitzgerald were living in the apartment that was next door to the one that had been on fire. The balconies were beside each other and they were identified as the intruders.

Both men were arrested. Graham later said in interview that he had a row with the resident in the apartment next door during which his own cheek was bitten. He denied climbing onto the balcony or starting the fire. Gary made no admissions during interview.

Det Gda McGrath agreed with Garnet Orange SC, defending Graham that there was no evidence to indicate how the fire had started but photographs suggested that the mattress in the bedroom had been set on fire.

Damien Colgan SC, defending Gary Fitzgerald, said he had been living with his cousin at the time. He had taken tablets that night and was not fit to be interviewed by gardaí initially.

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Sonya McLean and Fiona Ferguson

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