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Soccer referee sent for trial accused of €1.8 million arson attack on Flyefit gym

The gym was gutted by fire after a car was driven through its front door and set ablaze.

The aftermath of the arson attack.
The aftermath of the arson attack.
Image: Dublin Fire Brigade

A CHILDREN’S SOCCER referee has been served with a book of evidence and sent forward for trial accused of carrying out a €1.8 million arson attack on a Dublin gym.

Dublin District Court heard the Flyefit 24-hour gym in the Coolock Retail Park on the Malahide Road was gutted by fire after a car was driven through its front door and set ablaze.

The incident happened in the early hours of 25 July, 2016.

Mark Harte, 25, with an address at Collins Avenue East, Clontarf, Dublin, was charged last month with arson and had been refused bail.

He faced his third hearing at Cloverhill District Court and was served with a book of evidence.

Judge Victor Blake made an order sending him forward for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he will face his next hearing on 19 November.

Harte had completed a university soccer scholarship in the United States.

Detective Garda Neil Plunkett had said earlier that it was alleged the incident happened at 2.20am when a car was driven through the door of the Flyefit Gym and was then doused with a flammable substance before hew as set alight.

Two staff members were working in the premises at the time.

The court heard the car was “engulfed in flames” and the fire spread throughout the building causing approximately €1.8 million worth of damage.

The incident was captured on CCTV cameras.

Detective Garda Plunkett alleged a male got out of a car carrying a plastic container. It was alleged one person went to the front of the gym and gave a signal to the driver who drove through the front door.

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The district court heard claims the car was covered in a liquid and set it alight.

Michael French, defending, had said his client had every intention to remain in the jurisdiction to face this allegation head on.

The solicitor said the accused was a young man who had been a football player.

He had spent some time at the University of Tennessee on a soccer scholarship but had returned home. He said his client was a referee and involved in referring under-age matches.

He has also completed a Safe pass course and was looking for work as a labourer.

Legal aid was granted legal aid for his trial.

About the author:

Tom Tuite

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