Man jailed for setting fire to mother's home causing over €90,000 of damage

Man Jailed For Setting Fire To Mother's Home Causing Over €90,000 Of Damage
The court heard Brian Ferns (38) intentionally set fire to a mattress in an upstairs bedroom. Photo: PA Images
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Isabel Hayes

A man who set fire to his mother's house, causing over €90,000 in damage, has been jailed for 21 months.

Brian Ferns (38) phoned his mother a number of times in April 2020 telling her to travel to Dublin to give him money for drugs or he would break up the family house and burn it, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.


Ferns' mother was away at the time, isolating with another family member during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Garda David Maguire told Paddy Jackson BL, prosecuting.

On the night of April 3rd, Ferns intentionally set fire to a mattress in his bedroom in the Clondalkin home, the court heard. When the fire brigade arrived, Ferns was standing in a doorway and hindered them as they tried to put out the fire, Gda Maguire said.

When questioned by gardaí, Ferns claimed he had accidentally set fire to the kitchen while cooking porridge, but an investigation by the fire brigade found the blaze started in an upstairs bedroom.

Ferns pleaded guilty to one count of arson at his home at James Connolly Park, Clondalkin, Dublin. It is an offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.


He has seven previous convictions, including criminal damage and drug possession.


The damage to the home came to €91,240, which was paid to Ferns' mother by her insurance company, the court heard. She later withdrew her statement to gardaí, meaning Ferns' guilty plea was valuable to the court, Keith Spencer BL, defending, said.

Mr Spencer said Ferns has mental health issues and carried out the arson in a bid to end his life.

A psychological report was before the court, outlining a number of issues. Mr Spencer said Ferns started smoking cannabis before the age of 10, became reclusive as a teenager and started having psychotic episodes.


Since this incident, Ferns has engaged in a rehabilitation programme, is on medication and has stabilised, Mr Spencer said.

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He added Ferns entered the guilty plea to ensure his mother did not have to go through a trial. He said Ferns was unlikely to come before the court again.

Sentencing Ferns, Judge Martin Nolan said it was clear he set fire to the house deliberately.

“Arson is very serious because fire has a habit of spreading,” he said. “It can cause danger to life and is an extremely serious crime, as indicated by the maximum sentence of life.”

The judge noted he had been asked not to send Ferns to prison but said the crime was “too serious”. He handed down a sentence of three years' imprisonment and suspended the final 15 months on a number of conditions.

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