We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Stock image of the inside of a court room.
Tallaght District Court

Teenager denied bail over petrol bomb attack at Tallaght building earmarked for asylum seekers

Andy Donohue (18) was charged with causing criminal damage St John’s House and remanded in custody.

AN 18-YEAR-OLD man charged over a petrol bomb attack at a building in Tallaght, Dublin, which was earmarked for asylum seekers, has been refused bail.

A hearing was told that the sole occupant of the building was a female security guard on duty who fled through a back exit when petrol bombs were hurled through a broken window a few metres from her desk.

Andy Donohue, of Citywest View, Tallaght, was charged with causing criminal damage on 21 May at St John’s House and remanded in custody by Judge Patricia McNamara at Tallaght District Court this morning.

The incident happened just after 11pm at the vacant property on High Street in Tallaght, Dublin 24.

At the time, the building was being considered to house international protection applicants.

Emergency services were called to the scene, and the Dublin Fire Brigade brought the blaze under control a short time later.

The youth was arrested on Saturday and held at Tallaght Garda station. Donohue was charged on Sunday afternoon and held pending his appearance before Judge McNamara on Monday morning.

Dressed in a grey sweater, blue jeans, and white runners, he spoke to confirm his name and said that he had been shown CCTV footage in Garda custody.

Garda Eoin Monahan told Judge McNamara that the youth made no reply when charged.

The garda objected to bail due to the seriousness of the charge, which, on conviction, could carry a 10-year sentence and a fine of up to €10,000.

A file is to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution, and the officer expected further charges.

The court heard the current estimate for the damage was €20,000.

It was alleged Donohue set fire to St John’s House at approximately 11.10pm on Tuesday, and gardaí observed fire coming from the building and damage inside.

“The building security guard was the sole occupant of the building when the incident occurred; she escaped through the back fire exit,” Garda Monahan said.

Outlining the investigation, he said that “an extensive CCTV trawl was carried out”.

He claimed footage from St John’s House showed a male whose face was not covered walking down High Street with a backpack. “He was observed throwing a petrol bomb which was already ignited at the concourse of St John’s House,” Garda Monahan said.

The court heard it “bounced off” the front window, and the man in the footage smashed it with a hammer and threw two more petrol bombs inside.

The court heard a third petrol bomb was picked up and thrown into the building.

The garda maintained there was video evidence of the accused’s movements. Officers searched his address on Saturday when the accused was not present. After contacting his mother, he came to the garda station that evening.

Runners were seized as evidence.

Garda Monahan said it was evident Donohue “had a clear view on current immigration policy in Ireland”.

The judge heard there had been publicity and demonstrations about the intended use of the building, and the petrol bomb attacker was reckless about putting lives at risk and would not have known if there were other people on the premises.

The court also heard that adjoining buildings were occupied.

But for the prompt actions of the Dublin Fire Brigade, the incident could have had “serious and tragic consequences”, the court heard.

The garda alleged a newspaper article about the incident was on the youth’s bed, and the garda believed the teen “had a certain amount of pride in relation to the damage he caused.”

The court heard he had no previous convictions.

Footage from inside and outside St John’s House was shown during the contested bail hearing.

However, the garda agreed with defence counsel Lauren Flanagan that the accused had the presumption of innocence, and the video evidence was open to challenge. The court heard he had surrendered his passport.

In exchanges with the defence, the garda said bail conditions would not allay his concerns.

The defence barrister proposed that the accused reside at his current address with his family, abide by a curfew, be contactable by phone at all times, not apply for a replacement passport, and sign on five days a week at his local garda station.

The barrister asked the judge to note that her client “has just turned 18″ and that if he were denied bail, he could face two years in custody pending trial, which was a long time for a person his age.

She said he did not have a drug problem, history of warrants or prior convictions, and the conditions suggested could address the concerns raised by the garda.

Judge McNamara stressed the accused had the presumption of innocence but refused bail and remanded him in custody to appear at Cloverhill District Court on Friday via video link.

The teen was accompanied to the proceedings by his mother and another relative. Legal aid was granted.

Supporters gathered outside and attempted to interact with or accost members of the media or block attempts to photograph or record the youth being driven from the courthouse.