15 Aug 2022

Judge tells Derry man jailed for eight months after he tried to set fire to a car that he could not blame drink for his actions

A man has been jailed for eight months at Derry Crown Court for attempted arson on a car. Patrick McGonagle (55) of Moyola Drive in Derry admitted the charge which occurred on October 20 last year. The court heard that around 7 a.m. on that date the defendant attempted to set fire to a vehicle parked in Lower Clarendon Street. He had placed a burning object under the wheel but the fire did not catch. When questioned about the offence he blamed alcohol consumption. Defence barrister Mr. Johnny Longman said that his client was 'so out of his head' he did not know what he was doing. He said that McGonagle had been off drink since January and was attending counselling sessions. He said the offence was not one of violence. But District Judge Barney McElholm said that he could not accept that an attempt to set fire to a vehicle in Derry's city centre was not an act of violence. He said McGonagle had not accepted anything at interview and had two previous convictions for arson. The judge said 'to do something and then dismiss it as drink doesn't wash.' He sentenced McGonagle to eight months in prison.

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