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Fireman who set fire to gorse land has seven-month prison sentence suspended

Several witnesses put the car David Ahern was driving on that date near the location when the fire began

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David Ahern

David Ahern

David Ahern

A fireman who set fire to gorse land in the Killorglin area has seen his seven-month prison sentence suspended by Judge David Waters. 

David Ahern (37) of St James’s Gardens, Killorglin, was last month found guilty of Criminal Damage on April 13, 2020, at Cromane Upper, Killorglin.

His solicitor, Brendan Ahern, said his client continues to maintain his innocence when he appeared before the Court in Tralee yesterday for sentencing.

A full crew of nine fire personnel, including Ahern, responded to the Easter Monday call-out.

Extra pay was given to respondents as the call-out occurred on a bank holiday.

The Court heard last month how total cost of the two-and-a-quarter-hour response came to some €1,500.

However, several witnesses put the car David Ahern was driving on that date near the location when the fire began.

One, who watched from a house 500 to 600 yards away, described seeing a man leave this car, “going around a corner”, and returning to the car. Smoke then began to billow from the gorse land as the car drove away.

Brendan Ahern said his client, who has two young children – aged 11 and 6, and is in a stable relationship, was suspended from the fire service after being charged.

He said the prosecution had already had a negative effect on his client and his client’s family and that the case had attracted significant attention.

He pointed out that the incident caused no major damage, such as damage to private property and asked Judge Waters not to impose a custodial sentence.

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Judge Waters reiterated that the evidence he heard last month in Cahersiveen Court House left him “more than satisfied” that David Ahern was guilty of criminal damage.

He said that David Ahern’s lack of remorse and continued refusal to accept culpability made it very hard for him not to impose a custodial sentence. He also said the man had breached trust through his actions.

He added, however, that the 37-year-old’s previously unblemished record had “to be given huge weight”.

On that basis – and with some reluctance, he said – he suspended a seven-month prison sentence for a period of one year. He asked David Ahern to enter into his own bond of €500.

Recognisance has been set in the event of appeal.

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