Man refused bail after Christmas Day arson attack which hospitalised three people

Shane Casey (32) charged with a single count of arson at a house at Dyke Parade in Cork city centre last December

A 32-year-old man has been refused bail after he was charged with a Christmas Day arson attack where he allegedly set a house on fire and tried to barricade in the occupants which resulted in three people having to be hospitalised and one woman having to be rescued from the roof of the burning building in Cork City.

Shane Casey with an address at Shanowen, Rathcormac, Co Cork was charged with a single count of arson at a house at Dyke Parade in Cork City centre on December 25th last, contrary to Section 2 of the Criminal Damage Act 1991 when he was brought before Cork District Court on Wednesday.

Det Garda Brian Barron of the Bridewell Garda station in Cork gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution and told Judge Mary Dorgan that Mr Casey made no reply to the charge when it was put to him following his arrest at the Bridewell Garda station 5.23pm on March 12th.

Court presenter, Sgt John Kelleher said that gardaí were objecting to bail and Det Garda Barron said that the objection was based both on the seriousness of the charge as reflected in the fact the offence carried up a penalty of up to life imprisonment and the strength of the evidence against Mr Casey.


He said that the state would allege that Mr Casey turned up outside the house on Dyke Parade just after 6pm on Christmas Day with a small bottle and knowing it was occupied, that he poured an accelerant from the bottle on the front door of the house before setting alight only for the fire to burn out.

“It is alleged that Shane Casey then opens the front door, enters the house and sets a fire within the hallway at the bottom of the stairs and that at 6.05pm, he exits and stands looking in the open front door at the fire taking hold in the hallway.

“It is alleged that at 6.06pm that he closes the front door and attempts to barricade the front door from the outside, using a piece of timber to jam to the side and then under the door,” said Det Garda Barron adding that there were four people in the building at the time.

“It is alleged he takes a blade from his pocket and holds it out in front of him and waits outside. At 6.08pm, the front door bursts open and [one of the men] attempts to escape the now blazing house. Shane Casey swipes at him with the blade twice, allegedly slicing his forehead.

“He has no choice but to retreat back into the burning house with Shane Casey in pursuit. The two can be seen tussling on CCTV,” said Det Garda Barron adding that Mr Casey can be seen blocking attempts made to get out of the burning house, again holding the blade before leaving at 6.09pm.

Three of the occupants of the building were able to make their escape but the fourth occupant, a woman was trapped in the upper floors after the blaze spread to the first floor and she managed to make her way to the rooftop where she was rescued by members of Cork City Fire Brigade.

Det Garda Barron said that six units of Cork City Fire Brigade arrived on the scene at 6.17pm and if it wasn’t for their prompt response and intervention, he believed that the arson attack would have resulted in serious injury if not death for the woman trapped on the roof of the four storey building.

The three people taken to hospital had all made good recoveries but the arson attack had caused hundreds of thousands of euros worth of damage to the historic building as the first two floors were engulfed in flames while two adjoining buildings suffered damage running into tens of thousands of euros.

He said that gardaí believed there was strong evidence against Mr Casey, who was not masked during the incident and was clearly identifiable on CCTV footage both arriving at the house, at the house and leaving the house and gardaí met him five hours later and he was wearing the same clothing as on the footage.

He said that while the man that Mr Casey allegedly slashed in the hallway of the building did not recognise him, the man did tell gardaí that his assailant said to him: “My name is Shane Casey and you remember me from two days ago – you are going to die here tonight.”

Cross-examined by defence solicitor, Diarmuid Kelleher, Det Garda Barron said that there no bail conditions that would satisfy gardaí so that Mr Casey could get bail such was the seriousness of the charge and the disregard he had shown both for the property and the people who were in the house.

Mr Casey took the stand and told the court that he did not want to be remanded in custody as he suffered from mental health issues and Cork Prison did not have the proper antipsychotic medicine that he needs to take three times a day to prevent him from having psychotic episodes.

“I won’t commit any offences, I won’t cause any trouble, I won’t interfere with any witnesses and I will keep all my appointments with the psychiatrist,” said Mr Casey, adding that he wouldn’t get the proper antipsychotic medicine in Cork Prison and “my mental health will go downhill”.

Judge Dorgan said that having heard the evidence from both gardaí and Mr Casey, she had no option but to remand him in custody to appear again in court on March 20th but she ordered a list of his medicines be sent Cork Prison so that they can obtain them and administer them to him.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times