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Alcoholic set motorbike ablaze on busy Dublin city street as mother and child passed close by

CourtsBy Sunday World
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An alcoholic, who set a motorbike on fire on busy street causing a passing woman and her child to run for safety, will be sentenced next February.

James Kennedy (34) of Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson on Westland Row, on September 12, 2015.

His 40 previous convictions include criminal damage, theft, public order and violent behaviour in a garda station.

Judge Melanie Greally said the "consequences for the people in the immediate vicinity could have been very, very severe indeed".

She accepted Kennedy has alcohol problems and he doesn't even recall the incident but said "ultimately people have to take responsibility for their actions".

The judge adjourned the case to allow Kennedy to be assessed for residential drug treatment. She also ordered a probation report for that date.

Kennedy could be clearly seen on CCTV footage trying to move the bike before he got off it and interfered with the petrol tank. Liquid can be seen coming out of the tank before he moved into a shop and returned with lottery slips which he put under the petrol tank.

He can then be seen searching his pockets before going into a nearby cafe, returning and setting the lottery slips on fire.

Garda John Paul Keohane told Seamus Clarke BL, prosecuting, that the bike was completely engulfed in flames and a woman and child who were passing by had to run away due to the ferocity of the blaze.

Kennedy was instantly recognised by gardai on the footage and arrested a few months later. He initially denied any involvement but accepted responsibility when the footage was shown to him.

He said he didn't know why he had done it and said he was "full of alcohol" having drank a bottle of vodka that day.

Gda Keohane said the bike, which was valued at €3,000, was totally destroyed.

He agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending that Kennedy had a significant drink problem at the time and both he had his partner have been homeless.

He accepted that Kennedy had no connection to the bike or its owner and had no reason to offer as to why he set it alight.

Mr Le Vert said Kennedy's father was a severe alcoholic and introduced him to alcohol at 11 years old.

"He later slipped into very significant drink and drug abuse," counsel said but added that he is on a methadone programme since his remand in custody.

Sonya McLean