Father-of-one jailed after burning out cars he failed to steal

Gareth Colley (23), ‘miffed’ he couldn’t get a taxi to accept him at the time, judge says

Gareth Colley, of Convent Lawns, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of arson and attempting to unlawfully take a car on March 23rd, 2014.

Gareth Colley, of Convent Lawns, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of arson and attempting to unlawfully take a car on March 23rd, 2014.

 

A father-of-one who set fire to two cars after he failed to steal them has been sentenced to three years with the final 15 months suspended.

Gareth Colley (23), was already “miffed” that he couldn’t get a taxi to accept him as a passenger when he was wandering around in a drunken state.

He told gardaí he hadn’t a clue where he was and tried to break into the vehicles.

He said when he wasn’t able to drive off in the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Micra, he set fire to the car seat covers with a lighter.

Colley, of Convent Lawns, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of arson and attempting to unlawfully take a car on March 23rd, 2014.

His 52 previous convictions included for criminal damage, road traffic, drug, theft and public order offences, and had all been dealt with in the District Court.

‘Wanton destruction’

Judge Desmond Hogan said the offences represented “the wanton destruction of two people’s cars by someone who is out of his head on drink and possibly drugs”.

He said Colley was “miffed” because a taxi wouldn’t give him a lift and noted he had 10 previous convictions for criminal damage.

“He has a propensity to damage property,” Judge Hogan said before he suspended the final 15 months of a three-year sentence.

Garda Eoin McDonnell told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting, that he had been called to the scene on Dodder Terrace in Ringsend and discovered a Ford Fiesta engulfed in flames.

He was then alerted to the fact that a second vehicle, a Micra, was on fire at the nearby George Reynolds House flat complex.

A witness to this second incident was able to provide gardaí with a description of the culprit, which included that there was orange writing on the back of the man’s black jacket.

The description was circulated to other officers before a taxi driver told gardaí he had spotted a man fleeing to an underground carpark of an apartment complex.

Smell of smoke

Colley was later found there and arrested. There was a strong smell of smoke from him and his clothing.

Garda McDonnell said he was initially deemed too drunk to be questioned but was interviewed three hours later.

Colley said he had been arrested earlier that night after getting into a brawl. He said he didn’t know where he was when he was later released.

“To be honest I hadn’t a clue where I was. I was walking around in circles trying to get a taxi and I decided to take a car,” he told gardaí, admitting it was “a very stupid thing to do”.

Garda McDonnell agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending, that the cars were not specifically targeted but chosen at random.

He accepted Colley had abused alcohol and cannabis as a youth before moving on to prescription medication and heroin.

Mr Rea told Judge Hogan that his client, a father to a three-year-old daughter, had been struggling to deal with his addiction problem, but had been attending a treatment centre since the beginning of this month.

He said his client has “underlying problems” that the centre is not equipped to deal, with and that it is Colley’s “earnest wish” to move on for residential drug treatment.

Mr Rea said the “dangers” of his offending behaviour were huge and Colley is “gravely concerned about what he did”.