Court told of petrol bomb attack on Michelle Mulherin’s office

Accused man (41) ‘severely psychotic’ at time of arson attack on Fine Gael politician’s office

A 41-year-old man who threw a homemade petrol bomb through the window of former Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin's constituency office in Ballina, Co Mayo causing more than €23,000 damage was "severely psychotic" at the time, a court was told on Tuesday.

Dr Frank Kelly, a consultant psychiarist at the Central Mental Hospital, Dublin, told Judge Rory MacCabe and a jury at the Circuit Criminal Court in Castlebar he believed John Clarke, Greenhills Estate, Ballina, was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis on January 27th, 2015, when he staged the arson attack on the premises Ms Mulherin, now a Senator, leases at Casement Street, Ballina.

Dr Kelly outlined that Mr Clarke had been to a number of parties in the period prior to the incident where he consumed a significant amount of drugs including, amphetamines, cocaine, methadone, valium and alcohol.

Significant damage to IT equipment as well as fire damage to lights, fittings, curtains and blinds was caused in the incident.


Mr Clarke is pleading not guilty to a single count of arson.

Mental Health Act

The trial heard from Det Garda Pat Ruane that the accused, who was arrested following the incident under section 12 of the Mental Health Act, told gardaí afterwards he believe he was being followed, that his tobacco and drinking water was being poisoned and that the walls of his house had been painted with drugs.

The accused told gardaí he had no animosity towards Ms Mulherin and had made sure the building was empty before he did what he did.

The reason given by Mr Clarke to investigating officers for his actions was that he wanted to send a message to Taoiseach Enda Kenny about certain unlawful activites which he believed were taking place in the (Mayo) constituency.

The court heard the accused purchased 87 cent worth of petrol from a filling station in Ballina in a bottle after telling forecourt staff: “Don’t worry, I am a responsible person.”

He then broke a hole in the politican’s window, inserted a rag, and lit the device before flinging it through the window.

Under cross-examination by Diarmuid Connolly, Det Garda Ruane said the accused was agitated and distressed when interviewed and some of the things he was saying did not make sense.

At the outset of the case, counsel for the State Patrick Reynolds told the jury they could return one of three verdicts: guilty; not guilty; or not guilty by reason of insanity.

The trial continues.