Firefighters found man inside a smoke filled church

Firefighters performed CPR on a County Tipperary man who was found inside a smoke-logged building used as a church, Dundalk Circuit Court was told last week.

Firefighters performed CPR on a County Tipperary man who was found inside a smoke-logged building used as a church, Dundalk Circuit Court was told last week.

David Poyntz (21) from Clonmel pleaded guilty to burglary and arson arising out of the incident at a premises on Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk on the 15th of July last year.

The court was told last Thursday that the defendant had been involved in a fight on Chapel Street and was heard saying “I will light this place tonight” as he walked away. Around 4.30am a fire was reported in the Christ Healing Evangelical Church and while thermal imaging equipment failed to show anyone inside the former carpet shop, when a foot search was carried out, firefighters found the defendant “lying on the ground hiding behind some chairs against a wall”. The court heard the fire crew did not know if he was asleep or unconscious and performed CPR.

The court was told €100,000 worth of damage was caused to the church and €1,000 was caused in a yard of the old Forester’s Hall on Market Street where four seats of fire were found. The accused handed over a cigarette lighter to gardai but told them he had no recollection of events, when he was interviewed after being treated in hospital.

The court heard forensic tests found there was a strong likelihood that footprints found on a roof of the Market street premises, were made by the defendant’s right runner. The investigating garda Lisa McCabe told the court the defendant had been on temporary release from prison when he came to Dundalk and stayed with the Simon Community and this was her first time dealing with the accused.

The Defence barrister said her client was addicted to tablets at the time but is now clean of drugs and has completed a number of courses, since he went into custody two days after the incident. She stressed there was no racist motive involved in the crime and on his own initiative her client had written a letter of apology to the church. The barrister stressed that her client had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had a very poor recollection of events.

The court heard it is not known how the church fire started. Judge Michael O’Shea imposed three year concurrent sentences for each of the offences.