Man accused of causing death of boy (12) in 2001

Dermot Griffin pleads not guilty to setting fire to a makeshift den in Ballyfermot

Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 16:15

A man has been accused of setting fire to a makeshift den and causing the death of a 12-year-old boy trapped inside over a decade ago.

Dermot Griffin (54) of Ballyfermot Road, Ballyfermot has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Stephen Hughes at Rossfield Avenue, Tallaght on September 1, 2001.

Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, told the jury in her opening address that there would be CCTV footage from a nearby premises that showed a figure approaching the den and the moment the fire started at about 5am.

She said the prosecution is not saying anyone can be identified from this footage, but it is accusing Mr Griffin of the arson.

She revealed that a number of youths had been making the den between two buildings at Rossfield Avenue from the end of August 2001.

She said this den had become “sizable” and on Friday August 31, Stephen Hughes and then 14-year-old Daryl Hall decided to stay overnight.

Ms Gearty told the jury that a number of young people came in and out of the den on the night and at some points candles were used.

She said Mr Hall would give evidence that he had been sleeping towards the back of the den when the fire started and managed to break through a wall to escape. Stephen Hughes was not able to get out and he died in the blaze.

Ms Gearty explained that if someone commits a criminal or dangerous act in which someone else dies, then the crime is manslaughter. She added that the criminal act in this case is arson.

She told the jury to listen to the evidence as if the fire occurred last week or last year.

She also revealed that one of the prosecution witnesses in the case had a heroin addiction at the time and asked the jurors to bear this in mind when assessing the reliability of witness evidence.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury of six men and six women.