Community garden arsonist warned to pay compensation or face jail

A man who set fire to a shed in the Ballybane Community Garden in retaliation against his estranged wife, causing more than €2,500 in damage, has been given one last chance to come up with some form of compensation or face jail.

Judge Mary Fahy issued the warning at Monday’s sitting of Galway District Court after hearing how Martin Donovan (34 ) of 46 Beal Srutha, Ballybane, had failed to come up with a single penny despite being ordered to repay just one-fifth of the money in order to replace the shed and tools.

At a court sitting last November Donovan pleaded guilty to entering a building with intent to commit an offence and to criminal damage by arson on March 22, 2011. The court heard at the time how the shed at the Ballybane Community Gardens had been set on fire and that the defendant was spotted by gardai as he was attempting to flee from the scene. Donovan had told gardai that he had lit the fire with a cigarette lighter because he had been having difficulties with his wife. The court further heard how a list had been furnished to gardai outlining the damage caused, which included the shed itself and a number of tools, totalling €2,500. However after consideration Judge Fahy ruled that a sum of €500 from the defendant would suffice given the low cost of sheds these days. The case was adjourned to allow time for the payment of the money.

However, when the case resumed this week, the court was told that the Donovan had not managed to come with the €500 compensation. Defence solicitor Valerie Corcoran explained how Donovan’s father has passed away at Christmas and that a further adjournment would be needed. Judge Fahy refused to give the adjournment as the matter had been going on for too long. She added that the people who are being given chance after chance are the very ones who are messing the court around.

“I made it clear this is a serious matter... He has not one single penny, he is really putting himself in jail,” said Judge Fahy.

Ms Corcoran then asked Judge Fahy to consider giving her client a week to come up with the money, adding that he has approached family members for help and that it would be better for the community garden to receive the money.

“I will give you one week, and one week only,” warned Judge Fahy before adjourning the matter to February 15 next.

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