Letterkenny man caused nearly £45,000 in damage in car park arson

A Letterkenny man will be sentenced next week for causing nearly £45,000 in damage in an arson attack.

Rory O’Hara used a lighter to light the seat of a car that was parked in an underground parking lot on November 29, 2018.

O’Hara appeared in Letterkenny Circuit Court, where he pleaded guilty to arson,

Tenants had to be evacuated from neighboring apartments when a fire broke out in the underground car park at the rear of the Riverside apartments.

Detective Garda Kenny told the court that firefighters attended the scene.

The vehicle, which belonged to Ms Josephine Doherty, was a ‘complete write-off’.

CCTV footage showed a man entering the underground car park at 10:46 p.m. and leaving at 10:52 p.m. Shortly after leaving, smoke is seen coming out of the parking lot.

The man initially gave his name as “Patrick”, but was identified as O’Hara.

The owner of the car park, Mr Dermot Gildea, said the total cost of the damage was €44,996.

O’Hara was arrested by Garsa Ronan Morris and made a confession.

The defendant told Gardai he was “out of his mind” and said he needed help.

O’Hara, the court heard, has a number of previous convictions for theft and burglary.

Mr Shane Costello BL, O’Hara’s solicitor, said there was ‘no rhyme or reason’ why O’Hara set the car on fire.

“It is a very serious, but bizarre crime, Mr. Costello lamented. “What could have happened, he is very aware and very aware of it. There is no explanation for it. He was out of his head at the time.

Mr Costello said O’Hara was using cannabis and a synthetic drug called “spice” at the time.

“He has little understanding or memories, but he accepts what he did,” Mr. Costello said. O’Hara, the attorney said, was diagnosed with ADHD and left school without any formal qualifications.

“He cobbled together €500 which can be donated to one of the victims or a local charity,” Mr Costello said. “He knows it’s a pittance in terms of the cost of damage, but it’s money for him.”

O’Hara is out on bail and will be sentenced by Judge John Aylmer on Tuesday, February 8.