sentenced later | 

Exposed: Dublin burglar guilty of unlawful killing after setting house on fire

Dean Boland (35) broke into a downstairs apartment of the house where Mr Viera was living, stole a rucksack and set fire to the property

Dean Boland

Dean Boland

Scorched windows in the property

Sonya McLeanSunday World

A man will be sentenced later this month for the unlawful killing of a kitchen porter who died after the home he was living in was set on fire.

Dean Boland (35) was convicted last December by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury of the unlawful killing of Ohari Viera, damaging property by arson and burglary at Oaklands Terrace, Terenure on August 21, 2018.

Boland of Northwood, Santry, had pleaded not guilty to the offence. His previous convictions are District Court offences including an assault. He is currently serving a prison sentence for attempted robbery and is due for release this July.

It was the State’s case that Boland had broken into a downstairs apartment of the house where Mr Viera was living, stole a rucksack and set fire to the property. The investigation never established what actually started the fire but a forensic examiner concluded that it was started as “a consequence of a deliberate act”.

The court heard that Mr Viera had been living in an upstairs apartment with two other men and all three men managed to evacuate the building safely as soon as they became aware of the fire downstairs.

The men were waiting outside the property, when for an unknown reason, Mr Viera went back into the house. He never returned. Others tried to go into the property after him but couldn’t do so because the building was engulfed in smoke and flames.

Dean Boland

Officers from the Dublin Fire Service prepared statements for the trial which stated that Mr Viera was found in an upstairs room and he was taken by ambulance to St James' Hospital.

A statement from Dr Linda Mulligan, State Pathologist, stated that Mr Viera's cause of death was cardiac arrest following the inhalation of smoke and other fire gases.

A victim impact report from Mr Viera’s daughter, Tatiana, was read into the record at today’s sentence hearing.

She said she came to Ireland with her father, who was originally from Angola, as a child. She said he had “a complicated journey” which “ended sadly with his death”.

Ms Viera said that as an African national she grew up with a distrust of the police but through the trial she learned “the truth of the system” and spoke of the “kind humanity of the police” towards her.

She said she asked a lot of questions of the legal system and found it “marvellous”. She thanked the judge and jury and said that the prosecution barrister and his team were a great support to her.

Ms Viera said she “has some sympathy” for Boland and spoke of how he had no one in court to support him during the trial.

She said her father was a brother, an uncle, a father and a grandfather. She spoke of being escorted to the hospital when her father was taken there and said she was “traumatised when the machine was switched off the next day”.

Referring to Boland she said “you have a life and future, you can go on to get married and have children and grandchildren….my son will never have that with my Dad”.

Scorched windows in the property

Ms Viera said she hoped her experience “opens the eyes of the African community” to the police system in Ireland adding “there is no need to be afraid”.

She concluded her victim impact statement again giving thanks for the support she received during the trial. “I am looking forward to a future. I will never forget all you kind and thoughtful people,” Ms Viera said.

Seamus Clarke SC, prosecuting told Judge Elma Sheahan that the Director of Public Prosecutions put this case in the high range of manslaughter offences.

He submitted to the court that the fact that Mr Viera went back into the building at the particular time was “very unfortunate” as anyone who tried to get back into the building after him could not actually get in because of the extent of the fire.

He suggested that this should be taken into account in relation to the assessment of the case.

Garret Baker SC defending said that his client maintains a “lack of criminal liability” and disagrees with the jury’s verdict.

He asked the court to accept that there was no evidence that Boland knew there were occupants upstairs in the property but counsel accepted that there is “an inherent risk” in setting a fire in a building.

He reminded the court that the fire was set in a downstairs apartment that was totally unoccupied at the time.

Mr Baker referred to case law in terms of where to place the offence in the range of seriousness.

He asked the court to accept, that his client has no relevant previous convictions for arson or manslaughter, that there was no history of violence between Boland and Mr Viera and that there was no confrontation involving a lethal weapon.

Counsel said that there had been a successful evacuation of the building and “Mr Viera decided to re-enter the property and very unfortunately succumbed to the fire”.

Judge Elma Sheahan said she wanted to thank Ms Viera for her victim impact statement and said she has shown “a level of kindness” which is unusual in such a case involving the tragic loss of her father.

She said she needed time to consider the case and adjourned sentencing to March 30.

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