An off-duty Garda prevented a Garda station from being damaged after a patrol car outside was set alight, a court has heard.
Details of the close-call were heard as a man appeared before Letterkenny District Court charged with the arson of a patrol car outside Castlefin Garda Station in Co Donegal.
Gary McGinley was charged with arson of the official marked car which was set alight just after 4am on Saturday morning last.
The court was told that McGinley had been captured on CCTV pouring petrol on the Hyundai i30 estate patrol car and causing €10,000 of damage to the car.
Sergeant Jim Collins told the court that the car was parked approximately eight feet from the front of the Garda station.
It was also revealed during the case that an off-duty Garda happened to be passing by the station and managed to use a fire extinguisher to stop the blaze from spreading.
McGinley, aged 35 and of Emmett Park, Castlefin was brought to court accompanied by Gardai and in handcuffs.
He was arrested followed a high profile Garda operation at Emmett Park, Castlefin on Saturday evening.
The court was told that clothing found at McGinley’s home matched that seen on CCTV by Gardai.
Detective Garda Robin Doyle of Lifford Garda Station told the court that he charged McGinley yesterday (SUN) at 5.17am.
When charged McGinley replied “I’m sorry.”
Sergeant Collins said he was objecting to bail saying he feared that if given bail the accused would go on to commit further serious offences.
He accepted, however that McGinley was not a flight risk.
However, he said the alleged current offence was committed while McGinley was on bail.
The man’s solicitor, Mr Patsy Gallagher, said he was seeking to have his client remanded to be assessed by the mental health services.
He said his client had admitted the offence and that while he was in custody there had been concerns for his welfare.
Sergeant Collins said he was still objecting to bail saying this was a very serious matter and pointed out that the penalty was up to life imprisonment.
He added “But for the grace of God the station could have also been set alight but for fact that there was a member passing by and he managed to control the fire. ”
Judge Éiteáin Cunningham took time over lunch to consider the bail application.
However, when she returned she refused bail on a number of grounds including the seriousness of the charge, the strength of the evidence and the sentence likely to be imposed.
She ordered that McGinley receive all medical help while on remand and that he be seen by both the psychological and psychiatric services in prison.
The case was adjourned by videolink to this Thursday, January 26th at Letterkenny District Court.