A WOMAN who set fire to a building in Westport causing nearly €40,000 in damage received a four-year prison sentence at last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court.
Valerie Reid of 1A Dyson Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, England and formerly of 1 Woodlodge Estate, Knappagh, Westport, pleaded guilty to arson of a building on Altamont Street, Westport, on May 13, 2015. Ms Reid lit a number of fires in her building after ‘something clicked inside her’.
She fled the jurisdiction after the offence and was extradited from England last November. She has been in custody since then.
Garda Denis Egan explained that Ms Reid leased the property in which she started the fire. He also said that the Gardaí were informed that the fire could not have started accidentally, as fires had been lit at three points.
Ms Reid was subsequently arrested. She admitted phoning 999 on June 11, 2015, and stating she started the fire. Ms Reid was not charged, and she left the jurisdiction before she could be charged with the offence. Garda Egan said the building was insured, but €39,034 in damage was caused.
The court heard that Ms Reid’s mother, who resides in Blackburn, was gravely ill, and that she intends to return to Blackburn and never come back to Ireland. Ms Reid also said that she was remorseful for what had occurred.
However, Judge Rory McCabe said that the probation services have been unable to meaningfully engage with Ms Reid and so an assessment as to her likelihood of reoffending was not possible, and that as a result a supervision order was not an option.
He said the only thing he could do was to impose a custodial sentence, and he imposed a four-year sentence with the final two years suspended for five years. The sentence was backdated to November 9, 2017.