A house fire which led to the unlawful death of a kitchen porter was started by a “deliberate act”, a jury has heard.
Dean Boland (34) has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Ohari Viera, damaging property by arson, and burglary and theft at Oaklands Terrace, Terenure, Dublin on August 21st, 2018.
Mr Boland, of Northwood, Santry, allegedly broke into the house where Mr Viera was living, stole a rucksack and set fire to the property. Mr Viera re-entered the property before the arrival of emergency services and later died of cardiac arrest in hospital.
On the third day of the trial, forensic examiner Paul Collins told Séamus Clarke SC, prosecuting, it is his view that the fire in the ground floor apartment started as a consequence of a “deliberate act”.
The witness said he examined the apartment the following day and formed the opinion that the fire could not have started accidentally. He said the evidence indicates that the fire started in the bedroom, between the bed and the stairwell parting wall.
Mr Collins agreed with Garret Baker SC, defending, that while he cannot say what started the fire, he is confident he identified the location where it began. The witness also confirmed it is his view that human input started the fire, though he could not say the nature of this.
Mr Collins said the high temperature of the fire destroyed the ceiling of the ground floor apartment, causing damage to the floor of an upstairs apartment. The fire also affected the stairwell wall and would have had “severe consequences” for anyone living upstairs, he added.
Mr Baker agreed with defence counsel that it would have been imperative for anyone in the building to get out and stay out once the fire had started.
The apartment’s tenant, George Cullen, told prosecuting counsel that he met Mr Boland at a treatment facility. He said that when he was homeless, the accused had given him a place to stay on a few occasions.
The witness said he let Mr Boland and his girlfriend stay at his apartment on two occasions before the incident. Mr Cullen said he met Mr Boland in the days before the fire and the accused asked if he could stay with him. The witness said he told Mr Boland that he was going into hospital and to contact him if he was stuck when he got out.
Mr Cullen said he had run out of credit on his prepay power meter in the morning but did not top it up as he was going into the hospital.
The jury also heard that Mr Boland was arrested and charged in relation to criminal damage at the house on Oaklands Terrace on August 22nd, 2018 at 9.20pm.
Mr Boland’s clothes were seized by gardaí and DNA samples were taken for forensic analysis. No forensic evidence, DNA or fingerprints relating to Mr Boland were found at the scene.
CCTV from properties on an adjacent road, which had been forensically enhanced, was played for the jury.
The trial continues before Judge Elma Sheahan and a jury.