Man who barricaded himself into house before threatening to burn it down has been jailed

CourtsBy Sunday World
Dublin Courts of Criminal Justice
Dublin Courts of Criminal Justice

A man who barricaded himself into a house he had broken into before threatening to burn the place down has been jailed.

Robert Hedderman (30) was on a cocktail of drugs when he told gardai to "get the fuck away from me or I’ll fucking kill you. I’ll burn the place down”, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Hedderman of Kilmartin Drive, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty to burglary and criminal damage and unlawfully producing a firework in a manner likely to intimidate a garda at a flat on North Great Georges Street., Dublin on May 6, 2014.

Judge Martin Nolan backdated a jail term of three years to last May when Hedderman went into custody.

Garda Maria Harman told Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting, that she went to the premises after a neighbour saw Hedderman trying using a hacksaw to cut the bars in the window of the flat and raised the alarm.

Hedderman told the neighbour he was working on the house and shortening the window and hoped the noise wasn’t disturbing him.

When gardai arrived and found Hedderman in the flat they told him to leave. He then made the threat. Garda Harman said he had a very large kitchen knife and was also holding a lighter and trying to light various items of furniture.

The garda called for armed backup as Hedderman told them: “Fuck off or I’ll burn the place”.

Gardaí then heard a number of small explosions and realised that Hedderman was lighting fireworks and throwing them down on top of gardai from a window. Gardai were forced to move back to avoid injury and members of the Public Order Unit arrived with fire resistant shields.

A Dublin Fire Brigade crew also arrived at the scene and gardaí began evacuating neighbouring houses in case a house fire did start.

By this stage Hedderman had barricaded himself inside the flat using furniture and was still brandishing the knife. When he moved to the back of the flat armed gardaí moved in and broke down the barricade.

After three warnings to drop the knife and get on the ground Hedderman complied and was arrested.

The court heard the damage to the door cost €500 to repair.

Hedderman has 25 previous convictions and was previously jailed for robbery and for burglaries.

Kathleen Leader BL, defending, said her client has a long standing heroin addiction and was breaking into the flat to fund his €200 a week drug habit. She said he was on a cocktail of drugs at the time and told gardaí the next day that he couldn’t remember what he had done.

She submitted that he was acting irrationally while in the building, including walking around the flat wearing a top hat. Judge Nolan suggested that trying to set fire to a building he was occupying at the time was also irrational.

Judge Nolan said that Hedderman had behaved in a violent and threatening manner. He said he appears to be off drugs now and is doing reasonably well while in custody.

He said it was up to himself to decide whether to become a law abiding member of society or carry on the same path he is on.

By Declan Brennan