Man accused of explosion at CAB property seized from gang boss

House belonged to Liam Byrne who is believed to be organised crime member at ‘highest level in the State’

A 28-year-old man has been charged with a serious arson attack which gutted a house seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) from gang boss Liam Byrne.

Joseph Richards, of Belclare Drive, Ballymun, Dublin, was arrested at his home on Friday and detained at Ballyfermot Garda Station under Section four of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

He was charged with arson of a house – the property of CAB – at Grangeview Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22. It was extensively damaged by fire just after midnight on August 12th last.

Mr Richards was brought before Judge John Hughes at Dublin District Court on Saturday and was refused bail.

Det Gda Chris O’Sullivan said Mr Richards made no reply when he was charged.

Objecting to bail due to the seriousness of the case, Det Gda O'Sullivan said it was alleged a Volvo 4X4 and a Vauxhall Vectra arrived at the house which was vacant and secured with steel plates and steel doors.

It was alleged the Volvo was reversed through the front of the house and left “lodged in the living room window”.

“An accelerant was used causing an explosion in the vehicle and the house,” he said.

It took fire fighters 45 minutes to cut through the steel plates and doors to extinguish the fire, the court heard.

It was estimated damage, in excess of €100,000, was caused to the CAB owned property. The entire front face of the house will have to be demolished and rebuilt, the court heard.

Houses next door also suffered serious damage, the judge was told.

CCTV footage

Det Gda O'Sullivan told the court CAB had seized the house under the Proceeds of Crime Act, 1996, from Liam Byrne, formerly of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, Dublin.

The court heard Liam Byrne was, “believed to be a member of organised crime at the highest level in the State”.

It was alleged the accused bought the two vehicles used on August 6th and they were registered under false names and addresses. It was also alleged he took part in the arson.

Cross-examined by defence solicitor Michelle Finan, Detective Garda O'Sullivan said a substantial body of evidence has been gathered, and he accepted CCTV footage was not clear.

The offence can carry a life sentence.

Dressed in a grey tracksuit and wearing a facemask, Mr Roberts did not address the court and has not yet indicated how he will plead.

Pleading for bail, his solicitor told the court her client would abide by stringent conditions.

Judge Hughes said the accused had the presumption of innocence and the presumption of bail and it could be up to two years until his trial.

However, he held the requisite standard to deny bail had been met by the prosecution.

Legal aid was granted to Mr Richards who is unemployed and on social welfare.

Judge Hughes remanded him in custody to appear via video-link on Tuesday at Cloverhill District Court.