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Man set fire to former housemate's door after mobile phone row

Seabury Parade in Malahide, where the incident took place
Seabury Parade in Malahide, where the incident took place

A Moldovan man who set fire to his former housemate's door following a row about a missing mobile phone will be sentenced in July.

Vladislav Roman (35) had previously made drunken threats to the residents after his phone went missing as he believed one of them had taken it. He returned to the house and set the fire after gardai were called to a “commotion” at the house earlier that evening.

Roman, of Walton Hall, Riverbank, Swords, Co Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to damaging a property, at Seabury Parade, Malahide, by fire and was reckless as to whether the lives of the occupants were endangered on May 9, 2016.

Judge Karen O'Connor noted that Roman has used his time in custody to date in a productive fashion and adjourned sentencing until July to allow reports be prepared.

Dean Kelly BL, defending, said Roman had been living here for ten years and had worked "ceaselessly" during that time in various jobs. He said Roman had a significant problem with alcohol and its use and abuse was the backdrop to all the problems in his life.

Mr Kelly said the plea was accepted on the basis that Roman was reckless as to the possible outcomes but not that he intended to cause death or serious injury. He said his client acknowledged the gravity of the offence.

Counsel said he was making the case that Roman was not the sum of what happened in the early hours of that day and submitted that a probation report might also be of assistance.

Detective Garda Donal O'Connell told John Quirke BL, prosecuting, that Roman was living in the house with a woman, her two adult sons and a student. He said things were initially fine in the house but disharmony arose following a party where Roman was prevented from driving when he was drunk.

He said that in the period before the offence Roman was of the opinion that one of the people in the house had taken his mobile phone. He said that Roman would become aggressive and abusive when drinking and make threats to people in the house but things would then die down again.

One of the residents said she would sleep with her door locked at times due to the accused.

The court heard that on the evening of the offence gardai were called to the house after neighbours noticed a “commotion” going on. Roman, who had been drinking with three friends in the garden of the house, had been confronted by the other residents after grabbing a phone from one of them.

During the commotion Roman had grabbed the arm of one of the residents and put a knife to her throat before threatening to kill her and her sons and burn them. He repeated the threats to kill and burn them in a later phone call. He left the area before gardai arrived.

The residents were still awake at 2pm when smoke began coming into the house. The fire brigade attended and helped to put out the fire. The front door was badly burned but no fire had encroached inside the house. Accelerant had been poured on the door.

Roman, who has 13 previous convictions, was arrested the following day.

One of the residents of the house said in her victim impact statement that she was no longer comfortable in her home. She said she was afraid and anxious as a result of the offence and locked all the windows and doors in the house. She is nervous for the safety of her adult sons.

The garda agreed with Dean Kelly BL, defending, that the incidents of violence at the house prior to the arson had been of a "low level" and that Roman had got "a blow or two himself."

He agreed that Roman had dealt politely with gardai.