An arsonist who burned the home of his neighbour escaped jail on condition that he do 240 hours community service.
Judge John O’Hagan told 22-year-old Reginald Greene it was not a defence to claim provocation but at the same time he was aware “of extreme provocation over a period of time which was a mitigating factor.”
The judge said Michael O’Shea, whose home was burned, provoked Greene in the most extreme way.
O’Shea chewing Greene’s food and then spitting it at him in a Chinese restaurant was “utterly contemptuous.”
The judge added that it was not an isolated incident because there were issues over a long period of time.
Donegal Circuit Court heard of a litany of unsociable behaviour by 42-year-old alcoholic O’Shea on the Emerald Drive council estate where both men lived in Killybegs.
When Greene and girlfriend Pauline Friel married O’Shea even tried to gate-crash the wedding party.
The court heard the final straw was when O’Shea and another man, both drunk, pestered Greene and his girlfriend when they were in a Chinese resteraunt.
O’Shea chewed a piece of Greene’s Chinese chicken and spat it at him.
Later that night, Greene went to O’Shea’s house and, after checking that nobody was in, threw a lighted paper on a duvet-covered bed and another on the front-room sofa.
Greene, who now lives in Stranorlar, pleaded guilty to arson on May 7, 2009. The council have accommodated O’Shea in a new home in Killybegs.
The court heard the blaze caused €14,130 damage to O’Shea’s old council house and another €5,000 to furniture.
Detective Garda John Breslin said that when Greene saw smoke bellowing out of the front door he raised the alert with the fire brigade on his own mobile phone.
Greene told the court that he was drunk that night and he was angry. He was very sorry for what happened as it was not the right thing to do.
Judge O’Hagan sentenced Greene to four years jail, suspended on condition that he do 240 hours community work.