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Dublin teen 'out of his head' on coke and booze set fire to car

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A teenager who set fire to a car outside a house while he was “out of his head” on alcohol and cocaine has been given a two-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Craig Mooney (19), of Broadford Walk, Ballinteer, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson at Hillview Estate, Ballinteer on November 13, 2016.

He has 11 previous convictions for possession of drugs, road traffic and public order offences.

Sentencing him today, Judge Karen O'Connor said arson created a very substantial risk to property and to human life.

She noted he had described it as a “stupid” act on his part but said it was a deliberate act and the potential consequences were very serious.

She imposed a prison sentence of three-and-a-half years and suspended the final year on strict conditions, noting his early guilty plea, admissions, remorse and young age.

Garda Jonathan Ryan told Lorcan Staines BL, prosecuting, that the Fiat Punto had been left at the rear of a mechanic's house where there were a number of other vehicles.

Mooney had called to the house at 10pm and had a short interaction with the owner in which he asked for a cigarette. The homeowner knew Mooney and they spoke about an old argument the man had with Mooney's brother. The man told Mooney: “Let bygones be bygones” and he agreed.

The homeowner was awake later that night at 2.30am when he heard a small bang and then saw a glow in the back garden. He shouted to his partner to ring the fire brigade and he rang 999.

They ran out of the house with their child. He described “huge” flames coming from the Fiat Punto.

Mooney was identified on CCTV getting over a wall and setting fire to the back seat of the car.

The homeowner said he felt sick as Mooney had seen his child earlier that evening and knew there was a child in the house. Mooney told gardai he did not know there was a child in the house and would not have done what he did if he had known.

Mooney said he was not thinking at the time and was “out of his head” on cocaine and alcohol. He said he was sorry and did not know what he was doing.

Gda Ryan agreed with Justin McQuade BL, defending, that Mooney had become visibly upset when he viewed the CCTV footage of the fire. “I don't think he grasped how serious it might have become until he saw the CCTV,” said Gda Ryan.

Mr McQuade said Mooney came from a decent and hard-working family and there was work available for him in the future. He said he was using his time in custody well.

He said Mooney suffered with anger and frustration. He said Mooney had begun using cannabis after finding it difficult to deal with the death of his grandmother in 2010.

He has a prosthetic eye after being accidentally hit with a golf club as a child.

Counsel said Mooney had been very remorseful on realisation of the enormity of what he had done and co-operated with the garda investigation.