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Man who set fire to cars in underground carpark as a teen is jailed

He was 17 at the time of the incident.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Alexander-rd

A TEENAGER WHO set fire to a number of cars in the underground carpark of an apartment complex, causing over €700,000 worth of damage and forcing residents out of their homes, has been jailed.

Alex Kane (22) was 17 years old when he went on a “spree of destruction”, first vandalizing and setting fires in an unoccupied building site, then attempting to set fire to two cars in the underground carpark of an apartment block, before setting fires in another underground car park in a second apartment block.

Kane was jailed for five years for this today and received a consecutive one-year term for handling stolen property, after he was caught in possession of a stolen cheque and cash while on bail for these offences.

He had no previous convictions at the time but now has convictions for offences including burglary, theft and criminal damage.

Kane of Mackintosh Park, Pottery Road, Cabinteely, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of trespass and arson at Fairhaven, Churchview Road, Killiney and at Abbey Glen Apartments, Johnstown Road, Cabinteely on on November 26, 2014. He also admitted trespass and criminal damage at Auburn Lodge Apartments, Killiney on the same date.

He further pleaded guilty to handling stolen property at his home on 6 November 2018.

A warrant was obtained to search Kane’s home after he was caught driving a car that had been stolen during the course of a burglary earlier that month. Cash and a stolen cheque for €425 was found during the search.

Evacuated

Sergeant Colm Ó Giolláin told Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, that eight cars were totally destroyed by the fire at Abbey Glen Apartments in Cabinteely and the two apartment blocks were completely evacuated on the night.

It was noticed that structural damage had been caused to the underground carpark so a number of residents were not permitted back into their homes for a few weeks until the security of the structure was confirmed.

The cost to the owners of the complex was a total of €751,409, which included the re-housing of residents. All but €5,500 was covered by the relevant insurance company.

Sergeant Ó Giolláin said Kane was identified as a suspect through viewing of CCTV footage as he has an unusual gait due to arthritis. A driving license stolen from one of the vehicles was found in his home and paint splatters on his clothing matched that of paint in the building site.

Judge Martin Nolan accepted Kane was under the influence at the time and went on “a spree of destruction”, set fires and caused considerable disruption.

He said he thought Kane was “well capable of reforming” and having read a number of reports accepted that things had happened to him “that should not have”.

“Setting fires is a very serious matter. It is easy to set a fire but more difficult to stop it,” Judge Nolan said before he sentenced Kane to a total of six years in prison.

Smouldering fire

Sgt Ó Giolláin said builders arrived at Fairhaven to find a smouldering fire in one house and damage caused to another three. There was paint strewn around and one of the workers was missing a screwdriver.

Residents at Auburn Lodge noticed that same morning that two cars had been damaged in the unsecured underground car park. One had tissue paper stuffed into the fuel tank while the other had windows smashed and a rag shoved into the exhaust. The missing screwdriver was found in this carpark.

After Kane was identified through CCTV footage, his home was searched. Some of his clothing was seized and the stolen driving licence was found.

In follow-up interviews with gardaí, Kane said he was at home at the time.

Sergeant Ó Giolláin agreed with Paul Murray SC, defending, that his client had no previous convictions prior to this offence and accepted that “no great intelligence was employed” during these crimes.

He accepted that Kane comes from a good family and is “a different person while on drugs”.

Ó Giolláin confirmed that a second person who was involved has not yet been identified.

Murray said Kane had sincere remorse for the disruption he caused and “very much regrets that he put so many lives at risk”.

He said he had a history of substance abuse, including cannabis, cocaine, MDMA, injecting heroin and taking crack cocaine. Counsel said he had since made “some efforts” to address his drug abuse.

About the author:

Sonya McClean

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