A 15-year-old boy has been given a six-month custodial sentence for setting off a firework that gutted a Dublin home. The schoolboy caused about €135,000 worth of fire damage, the Dublin Children’s Court heard on Tuesday.
The boy pleaded guilty to arson and endangering life in connection with a house fire at Wellington Street, Dublin 7, on November 27th, 2020.
The sentence to be served in the Oberstown detention centre was backdated by one month due to time served in custody on remand at earlier stages.
The teenager, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, committed more offences after the fire.
He received shorter concurrent sentences for a street robbery, an attempted robbery and cannabis possession. Theft and public order charges were taken into consideration. An updated probation report on the teenager showed he had already been given a six-month reprieve and had been supervised for a chance to avoid being detained.
Judge Paul Kelly described photos of the fire damage as “shocking”. The arson, he said, caused “significant personal and emotional consequences” and the boy “effectively burned the house down”.
The boy admitted setting off the firework, which started the blaze through a window but he denied intentionally aiming it at the house.
A victim impact statement was furnished during the course of the proceedings, which had been before the court for over a year.
Garda David O’Callaghan said three units from the Dublin Fire Brigade extinguished the fire.
The blaze started in the front of the house, in the sittingroom. The owner was in the back of the house with his partner when he heard a loud bang. Smoke and flames came from the sittingroom.
He went back to alert his partner, and the two men, in their 50s and 60s, fled the house. The court heard that they were “made homeless for eight months” and had faced a serious risk to their lives.
The older man had hearing difficulties and would not have heard the firework bang.
Their home was insured to cover the €135,000 worth of damage. The couple did not suffer any physical injuries but had “a huge amount of stress”, Garda O’Callaghan said.
The couple had lived in the house since 1983. Fifteen years ago, they renovated it at the cost of €167,000.
Gardaí obtained CCTV footage and identified the boy who made admitted his role in the fire and was apologetic.
Defence solicitor Brian Keenan told the court the teenager’s actions were “the height of immaturity”, and he could not foresee the outcome.
The court heard he had family problems. He began smoking cannabis and “hanging around with the wrong people”.