Woman put flaming paper through letterbox in row over bins

Gillian Philip (36) receives partly suspended sentence over the 2015 incident in Dublin

A woman who put a flaming piece of paper through her neighbour’s letterbox due to a dispute about bins has received a partly suspended sentence. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

A woman who put a flaming piece of paper through her neighbour’s letterbox due to a dispute about bins has received a partly suspended sentence. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A woman who put a flaming piece of paper through her neighbour’s letterbox due to a dispute about bins has received a partly suspended sentence.

The court heard Gillian Philip (36) was recognised by children in her neighbour’s house, who managed to quench the fire with water. The hall carpet was scorched but the children were not injured in the incident.

Philip, formerly of Mac Uilliam Green, Tallaght, Co Dublin, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to damaging her neighbour’s property with fire on October 21st, 2015.

At the court on Wednesday, Judge Karen O’Connor said it was a reckless act and noted that one cannot control what might occur in an arson attack.

The judge noted Philip has limited cognitive function and had had “a somewhat tragic life”.

She took into account Philip’s early guilty pleas, the fact she had provided a letter of remorse and that she had been using her time in custody in a positive way.

The judge imposed a 2½-year sentence and suspended the balance from Wednesday’s date on strict conditions.

Garda Robert Whitty had told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that he responded to reports of a house fire in Fortunestown, Tallaght, at 8pm on the date in question.

He later interviewed two children living in the house. One of the children had witnessed Philip pushing a piece of flaming laminated paper through the house’s letterbox.

Witness account

Mr Whitty said that the child and her sister had returned to their home at about 6pm on the date in question and gone upstairs to get some clothes.

The child then heard a voice shouting “fire, fire” and also calling her mother’s name. The child recognised the voice as that of Gillian Philip.

The child told her sister to be quiet, expecting Philip to leave. She witnessed the paper coming through the letterbox and recognised Philip through the door’s window.

She and her sister were able to quench the subsequent fire with water.

The girl discovered the piece of laminated paper that had been used to start the fire.

Philip called on the child to give her the paper, but she refused and gave it to gardaí­ when they arrived.

Mr Whitty arrested Philip later that evening. She initially denied her involvement in the incident, but soon admitted to pushing the flaming piece of paper through the letterbox.

Sean Gillane SC, defending, said a dispute over bins motivated Philip. The dispute revolved around one person’s rubbish being put into another person’s bin.

Mr Gillane said Philip was “prone to paranoia” and had a history of alcohol and drug abuse.

He argued that Philip had not intended to cause harm to the residents of the house and that the damage to the carpet was minor.