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Man gets four-year sentence for setting a motorbike on fire on a Dublin city street

The court heard that the man, who has an alcohol problem, could not recall the incident.

Westland Row (file photo)
Westland Row (file photo)
Image: Google Maps

A MAN WITH an alcohol problem who set a motorbike on fire on a busy Dublin street causing a passing woman and her child to run for safety has been sentenced to four-and-half-years in prison.

James Kennedy (34) of Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson on Westland Row on 12 September 2015.

His 40 previous convictions include criminal damage, theft, public order and violent behaviour in a garda station.

Judge Melanie Greally said the “consequences for the people in the immediate vicinity could have been very, very severe indeed” describing the incident as “senseless but highly dangerous”.

She accepted Kennedy had alcohol problems and he didn’t even recall the incident but said “ultimately people have to take responsibility for their actions”.

The judge had adjourned the case after hearing evidence last November to allow for the preparation of a probation report and for Kennedy to be assessed for a residential treatment.

Yesterday she accepted that the report indicated that the Probation Service felt it could assist Kennedy in the future.

She suspended the final two years of the four-and-a-half year term on strict conditions including that he attend for treatment and liaise with the Probation Service for 18 months on his release.

Engulfed in flames

The court heard at the previous hearing that Kennedy could be clearly seen on CCTV footage trying to move the bike before he got off it and interfered with the petrol tank.

Liquid can be seen coming out of the tank before he went into a shop and returned with lottery slips which he put under the petrol tank.

He can then be seen searching his pockets before going into a nearby cafe, returning and setting the lottery slips on fire.

Garda John Paul Keohane told Seamus Clarke BL, prosecuting, that the bike was completely engulfed in flames and a woman and child who were passing by had to run away due to the ferocity of the blaze.

Kennedy was instantly recognised by gardaí on the footage and arrested a few months later. He initially denied any involvement but accepted responsibility when the footage was shown to him.

He said he didn’t know why he had done it and said he was “full of alcohol” having drank a bottle of vodka that day.

Garda Keohane said the bike, which was valued at €3,000, was totally destroyed.

He agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending that Kennedy had a significant drink problem at the time and both he had his partner have been homeless.

He accepted that Kennedy had no connection to the bike or its owner and had no reason to offer as to why he set it alight.

Le Vert said Kennedy’s father was a severe alcoholic and introduced him to alcohol at 11 years old.

“He later slipped into very significant drink and drug abuse,” counsel said but added that he is on a methadone programme since his remand in custody.

Read: Why KBC is thinking of cashing out of Ireland – and why it’s being tipped to stay

Read: ‘No exceptions’: Drink drivers to get automatic ban instead of penalty points

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Sonya McClean

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