Man jailed over petrol attack which left child with horrific injuries

Accused’s conscience got the better of him when charged and he pleaded guilty

A man who took part in a violent raid on a house in Longford during which an 11-year-old girl was set alight with a petrol bomb has been jailed.

Michaela Maughan was visiting the house at Pauric Colum Heights in Longford town with her brother and grandmother three years ago when the terrifying late-night attack took place.

Longford Circuit Criminal Court heard the three visitors and the family who lived at the house were entirely innocent victims.

Michaela suffered horrific burn injuries and had been deeply affected by the attack. She required plastic surgery and was left with facial, arm and chest scarring.


She lost part of her ear and had a bald patch on her head after her hair caught fire. She is under the constant care of a senior psychologist and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

Her mother, Marie Ann, described her daughter's life as "a living hell on earth".

Garda evidence at an earlier court hearing revealed that four men wearing hoodies and armed with a baseball bat and slash hook attacked the house at midnight.

They smashed windows to force their way in and two of the attackers were seen with plastic bottles with rags attached at the top and carrying lighters.

Michaela had been sitting on a couch in the kitchen when one of the petrol bombs was thrown. She was immediately engulfed in flames.

In March, Martin Nevin (23), unemployed and originally from Springlawn in Longford, pleaded guilty to a charge of damaging the property of Ann Joyce at Pauric Colum Heights, Longford on September 30th, 2010, intending to damage it and endangering the life of Michaela Maughan.

He was due to be sentenced on May 28th, but the court was told that Nevin "had appeared to indicate" that he would make a statement about another individual who was present on the night. Adjourning the case to yesterday, Judge Tony Hunt said he would prefer if that statement was made before he would consider allowing him credit for it.

Prosecution counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley told the judge yesterday that there had been full co-operation, and the accused man had given a substantial account of the incident.

Judge Hunt described the attack as “an outrage”. The facts of the case were lamentable and of a shocking nature, he said.

The evidence had placed Martin Nevin in the vanguard of the invasion of the house, but his conscience had got the better of him when charged and he pleaded guilty, thereby avoiding putting the young girl through the ordeal of a trial.

The judge noted that four men had taken part in the attack and two had now been identified and found culpable. Martin Nevin had made his contribution by way of “an ample statement”.

He sentenced him to 12 years in prison, but suspended the final six under a range of conditions, including that he have no contact with Michaela Maughan or her immediate family.