Man paid to set fire to house jailed

A Limavady man who was paid £250 to set fire to a house has been jailed for three years.

Kenneth Gerard Martin McDonald, of Greystone Park in the town, pleaded guilty to arson on March 19, last year.

A co-accused, 23-year-old Mark Holmes, of Irish Green Street, who also admitted arson was jailed for 12 months.

Derry Crown Court heard that £68,000 worth of damage was caused to the house in the Sperrin Park area of the town as a result of the arson attack.

McDonald was paid £250 by an unknown person to set the house on fire and was supplied with a jerry can of petrol. He went into the roof space of the empty house to set the fire.

Holmes stayed downstairs in the property and acted as a ‘lookout’.

Both men fled after the petrol ignited, however they were confronted a short distance away by someone who knew them.

During police interview McDonald initially claimed he had an alibi then made no further comment. Holmes admitted his involvement and claimed that he had been asked to go to the house by his co-accused to look for copper.

Jailing the men, Judge Philip Babington said their intention had been to ‘destroy the property and the costs of repair are substantial’.

He added that ‘some evil, anonymous, unknown person paid McDonald to do this and he was prepared to do it for £250. Why the unknown person wanted this property damaged is impossible to know’.

The judge said it is a serious offence to ‘deliberately destroy someone’s property by fire and it must be met with a deterrent sentence’.

McDonald received a determinate sentence of three years, 18 month of which will be spent in custody and 18 months on licence. Holmes received 12 months and will spend half of this in custody.