Irishman caused €335,000 flood damage to Australian hotel

Pádraig Gaffney turned on fire hydrant valve while drunk causing Melbourne hotel to be evacuated


A Roscommon man has pleaded guilty in a Melbourne court to causing more than AUS$500,000 (€ 335,350) damage to a hotel in April last year.

After a heavy night of drinking, Pádraig Gaffney woke up just after midnight in the Fraser Place Hotel, walked out into the hallway and urinated. He was wearing just a pair of underpants at the time, the County Court heard.

Gaffney (29) then went down the emergency exit stairs to the eighth floor and turned on a fire hydrant valve, flooding all the floors below it.

The hotel was evacuated and the fire brigade called, but Gaffney returned to his room.

He had travelled to Melbourne from Queensland to celebrate his 28th birthday and to ask his girlfriend to marry him. The couple has since broken up.

When police later knocked on his room door, Gaffney’s hair was dripping wet, but he said he had no memory of what had happened.

He was fined $10,000 yesterday after pleading guilty to a charge of criminal damage.

Chief Judge Michael Rozenes said despite the catastrophic consequences, he could not see malicious intent in Gaffney’s conduct.

Judge Rozenes said Gaffney had been very drunk, but had not intended to cause damage to the hotel, and that it was a stupid act he would never have carried out had he been sober.

Gaffney told Melbourne’s Age newspaper he felt ashamed at having forced people to be moved to other hotels in the middle of the night.

“This entire thing has ruined my life completely,” he said. “I’ve spent 10 years in Australia trying to better myself and in the space of one night everything can be taken away from you.

“People who go out for the night and drink too much can ruin themselves completely.”

Gaffney’s lawyer Sam Norton said his client was deeply ashamed and embarrassed by what he had done, that this “extraordinary turn of events” had blackened his reputation and tarnished his family’s name.

Gaffney, who trained as a carpenter in Ireland and now works in construction in Queensland, is being sued by Fraser Place Hotel over the flooding damage.