Man who set car seat on fire caused €45,000 damage to car park

February 3, 2022

A man caused almost €45,000 worth of damage to an underground car park after setting fire to a car seat with a cigarette lighter.

Rory O’Hara appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he pleaded to a single charge of arson.

The court was told that shortly before 11pm on November 29th, 2018 a fire broke out at the Riverfront House, Pearse Road in Letterkenny.

Residents had to be evacuated and there was extensive damage caused to an underground car park.

Gardai and other emergency services called to the scene and the fire was brought under control.

It transpired that a car had been set on fire and this caused other damage to parts of the car park.

Gardai began an investigation and chatted to a number of people at the scene.

One of these people was a man who was riding around on a black mountain bike who was under the influence of alcohol.

From CCTV footage Gardai noticed the same man entering the underground car park at 10.46pm and leaving again at 10.52pm just before smoke starting coming from the building.

They identified the man as Rory O’Hara and later arrested and interviewed by Garda Ronan Morris about the blaze.

O’Hara declined to view the CCTV footage but admitted that he had been depressed and was “out of his head” during the incident.

The accused has a number of previous convictions for burglary and theft and had served a month in prison, the court was told.

The car which was destroyed in the blaze belonged to a Ms Josephine Doherty who was having a few drinks at the Station House Hotel and had parked it up.

The owner of the car park, Mr Dermot Gildea of Gildea Developments, put the overall estimate for damage at €44,996 which included damage to the property, lighting and an air conditioning system.

Barrister for the accused, Mr Shane Costello, SC, said O’Hara was abusing drugs at the time including cannabis and spice.

He said it was a “serious but bizarre” crime and that O’Hara had little recollection of it although he did admit he set the car seat on fire with a lighter.

Judge Joh Aylmer adjourned the case for final sentencing.