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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 29 January, 2020
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Man who destroyed home in 'devastating' gas explosion found not guilty of reckless endangerment

Terence Maguire caused the explosion in an attempt to take his own life.

Image: Rollingnews.ie

A JURY HAS found a man whose attempt to take his own life caused a “devastating” gas explosion not guilty of reckless endangerment.

Terence Maguire, 63, cut into a gas pipe in his Dublin home and took some sleeping tablets in a plan to kill himself from gas poisoning.

A short time later, he went to the back door of his home and lit a cigarette, causing a huge explosion.

His own home was blown out and damage to three neighbouring buildings led to their demolition.

A number of cars parked in the area were badly damaged by falling debris and other neighbouring homes had windows blown out.

The majority of costs have been covered by insurers, the trial heard, with only the defendant’s house still demolished.

Pain of depression

Maguire, now of Blessington Street, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to another at Sullivan Street, Dublin 7 on 1 June, 2014.

He also denied 13 charges of criminal damage of houses and cars around that location.

The accused accepted that his actions of cutting the pipe and lighting the cigarette caused the explosion, but said he had not intended them to do so.

He said his sole focus at the time was on killing himself to end the pain of the depression he suffered.

The court heard the accused has battled with mental illness for 13 years and spent lengthy periods in treatment in psychiatric hospital from 2009 to 2014.

“All the time, my mind was in this kind of state that I wasn’t thinking of any consequences whatsoever; it was just the getting to sleep as fast as I possibly could,” he said.

“I knew the gas was on, but I was not in a rational kind of a state of mind to comprehend that if I lit a cigarette the gas would go up.”

He told Detective Garda Tim O’Sullivan that he would now regard his actions as reckless, but at the time his urgency to end his own life overrode “any sort of thought of recklessness or maliciousness”.

Plane crashed

The jury heard details from written statements from neighbours who experienced the explosion shortly after 6pm on the Sunday evening of the bank holiday weekend.

Paula Higgins said she thought a plane had crashed when the walls of the house started to shake.

She looked outside and saw power cable poles had fallen, and said it looked like a bomb scene from a movie.

Another woman said she heard a loud bang before all the doors of her home slammed shut, and the glass in the doors smashed.

She said she heard people screaming and saw dust everywhere.

Judge Elma Sheahan thanked the jurors for their time. She also commended the manner in which the case was dealt with by gardaí and lawyers from both sides.

Earlier she told the jury that they must consider whether Maguire turned his mind to the risks of his actions but disregarded this risk and went on to act with indifference.

Earlier in the trial Brendan Grehan SC, defending, told the jurors that the issue they had to consider was that of recklessness.

“Unless you can be satisfied that before he lit that cigarette he thought about what would happen and he still went ahead and did it, you must acquit,” he told the jury.

Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, said that the case was extraordinarily unfortunate and that the defendant’s life was one beset by difficulties.

He said that suicide has affected almost everyone in Ireland, but told the jurors they must be dispassionate in their deliberations and leave aside any sympathies or other feelings.

If you need to talk, support is available:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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About the author:

Declan Brennan

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