Arsonist given conditional discharge

A man who set fire to curtains in a house and then immediately pulled them down and extinguished the fire has been ordered to pay compensation to the injured party.

Liam O’Donnell, of Montrose Gardens, pleaded guilty to arson on July 5, last year.

Derry Crown Court heard the injured party returned home after a night out and left the front window of his home open.

He was woken by a smoke alarm and when he went down he saw damage to the window.

The court heard he also saw the defendant and another man standing outside the window. They claimed they saw someone climb out of the window after setting the curtains on fire

However, 22-year-old O’Donnell handed himself into police the following day and admitted setting the fire.

He told police there had been words exchanged between his mother and the injured party and this had annoyed him.

O’Donnell said he had seen the curtains blowing in the wind and used a lighter to set one on fire.

Defence barrister Seamus McNeill said his client had no part in the ill feelings and had acted simply in ‘a fit of pique’.

He said there was no justification for O’Donnell’s actions and he wished to offer a public apology to the injured party.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said this crime may not have been solved if O’Donnell had not handed himself in.

He ordered him to pay £200 in compensation to the injured party and imposed a conditional discharge for a period of two years.