Arsonist started nine fires in his home, court hears
A 35-year-old father-of-six who put the lives of his neighbours at risk when he set fire to his rented accommodation has been handed a three-year sentence.
Gerard McConville, who has 85 previous criminal convictions, started nine different fires at his Colinview Street home in west Belfast in the early hours of April 28 last year. He will spend half of the sentence in prison, with the remaining 18 months spent on supervised licence upon his release.
A couple living next door had to evacuate their home along with their four children due to an act that was described as "deliberate" at Belfast Crown Court. It cost the landlord of the property an estimated £27,000 to repair the damage, with an additional loss of around £5,000 incurred as it was unfit for renting for a period.
When McConville was arrested he initially denied setting his own home on fire but he later pleaded guilty to a charge of causing arson endangering life.
Defence barrister Luke Curran spoke of his client's troubled background, which included the death of his father at an early age and periods of time in both foster care and children's homes.
Mr Curran also revealed that McConville was "addicted to alcohol", had been drinking since the age of around eight but had made efforts to address this dependency.
Pointing out that McConville acknowledged he had put his neighbours at risk, the barrister told Judge David McFarland that his client was "deeply remorseful".