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Drunk Dublin man sets fire to stolen car after crashing into parked vehicle

CourtsBy Sunday World
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A drunk man who caused €40,000 damage when he set fire to a stolen car "in frustration" after he crashed it into a parked car has received a one-year sentence.

Gareth Quinn (33) spent about 15 minutes trying to dislodge the crashed BMW X5 vehicle before setting it alight. The fire engulfed the car he had crashed into as well as damaging two other parked cars.

Quinn, who has 71 previous convictions, will begin the sentence in May 2019 at the end of a current four-year sentence for unlawful taking of a car imposed in April by Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court.

Quinn of Moorfield Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to unlawful use of a BMW X5 SUV and arson of three other vehicles at Reuben Avenue, Rialto on August 9, 2015.

Judge Martin Nolan said Quinn had been under the influence when he took and crashed the BMW. He said Quinn had set fire to the vehicle in frustration, causing €40,000 of damage.

Judge Nolan said there had to be an extension to Quinn's current stay in prison and imposed a one-year jail term consecutive to his current sentence.

Garda Peter Mullins told Seamus Clarke BL, prosecuting, that a resident of Reuben Avenue was awoken at about 7.15am by a grinding noise and looked outside to see a black vehicle had crashed into her neighbour's Audi TT car.

The driver of the BMW revved the vehicle for at least 10 to 15 minutes trying to dislodge it.

He then appeared to be trying to retrieve something from around the car before leaving the area. The BMW went on fire which then spread to a Audi A4 and a Fiat Punto. Quinn was arrested nearby.

Gda Mullins said no accelerant was used and gardai believe it was started with a cigarette lighter inside the vehicle. The BMW had been stolen the previous day, the owner reported seeing a “fat person” stealing it on CCTV at about 6.30am.

Gda Mullins agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that Quinn was very drunk when arrested. Quinn said he had been at a party the night before and thought, as he tried to piece things together, that's where things “went wrong.”

Mr Spencer said Quinn's father had spent many years in prison, as had Quinn. He said Quinn was tired of doing drugs and offending and wanted to be a father to his son.

He said Quinn had seen the error of his ways in the past and on release from a previous sentence he had taken the “correct path” for three and a half years. He now wished to stay clean and sober.

Counsel said Quinn understood the damage he had done and wished to convey his apologies to the vehicles' owners.