Speed van ar­son­ist is freed to re­turn to job in Aus­tralia

Bray People - - NEWS -

A 23-YEAR-OLD MAN who pleaded guilty to set­ting fire to an oc­cu­pied Go-Safe speed de­tec­tion van near Ark­low has been given an 11-month sus­pended sen­tence on con­di­tion that he re­turns to Aus­tralia within that pe­riod.

Si­mon Fur­long, of The Haven, Knock­naskena, Kil­lar­ney, Co Kerry, and also of Ki­lanerin, Gorey, pleaded guilty be­fore Wex­ford Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court to caus­ing dam­age by fire to a Go-Safe speed de­tec­tion van at Ash­wood, Gorey, on March 13, 2011.

In pass­ing sen­tence on Fri­day, Judge Barry Hick­son said the two other de­fen­dants in the case had re­ceived seven year sus­pended sentences, while in this case the de­fen­dant’s coun­sel of­fered a plea for a sen­tence of less than 12 months which would en­able him re­turn to Aus­tralia.

De­fence coun­sel said Fur­long had shown re­morse and had been mak­ing a liv­ing for him­self in Aus­tralia be­fore he was ex­tra­dited back to meet this case. The de­fen­dant had spent three months in de­ten­tion wait­ing to be ex­tra­dited back to Ire­land.

State So­lic­i­tor Kevin O’Do­herty said he had checked with the Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties and was in­formed the de­fen­dant could re­turn to Aus­tralia should he re­ceive 12 months or less.

Det Sgt Murt Whe­lan told the court the Go-Safe speed de­tec­tion van was parked at Ash­wood, Gorey, where it was oc­cu­pied by John McDon­ald.

He told the court of the three de­fen­dants went to an Esso ser­vice sta­tion for a can of petrol be­fore re­turn­ing to where the van was parked. Fur­long poured petrol un­der the van, while an­other set fire to it with a match, caus­ing the van to go on fire.

At that time, said Det Whe­lan, Mr McDon­ald was in the rear of the van. Hav­ing man­aged to get out of the van he rang gar­daí, who ar­rived al­most im­me­di­ately.

The dam­age to the van came to €18,000 while there was €62,500 dam­age to the van equip­ment.

Det Whe­lan said the three ac­cused were later ar­rested and in­ter­viewed in re­la­tion to the fire. The de­fen­dant was in­ter­viewed in the pres­ence of his fa­ther. He came from a very good fam­ily back­ground and this was his first of­fence, while he had not come to the at­ten­tion of gar­daí since.

Det Whe­lan said that Mr McDon­ald was left se­verely trau­ma­tised as a re­sult of the or­deal.

Judge Hick­son said he would take into ac­count the rather ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances in this case. He also said the ev­i­dence of the prose­cut­ing garda swayed heav­ily in this case, as did his coun­sel’s plea be­fore hand­ing down an 11-month sus­pended sen­tence.

The speed van on fire at Ash­wood on March 13, 2011.

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