Belfast Telegraph

Arson accused 'was having sex' when Belfast fire causing £600k damage broke out, court told

Bail was refused (stock photo)
Bail was refused (stock photo)

By Alan Erwin

A man accused of an arson attack which inflicted £600,000 worth of damage on businesses in west Belfast claims he was having sex when the blaze started, the High Court has heard.

Laurence Creaney, 32, told police he and his female co-accused remained together in a car at the scene on Kennedy Way after sharing a pizza.

Prosecutors claimed he is linked by CCTV footage and DNA on a pair of gloves.

Creaney, of Warren Gardens Lane in Lisburn, Co Antrim, denies a charge of arson.

The fire in the early hours of November 3 spread from a carpet retailer to at least two other nearby businesses.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire revealed the overall estimated cost of damage is in the region of £600,000.

He claimed Creaney and the co-accused were in a Vauxhall Astra that arrived and parked up at Kennedy Way before the blaze started.

The pair allegedly purchased a pizza and then moved in the vehicle to a darker part of the yard.

CCTV recordings show a man with a plastic bag scale up onto a roof, hunkering down at various windows and apparently setting various fires, the court heard.

He climbed down again after 20 minutes, by which stage the roof is ablaze.

Three minutes later, according to the prosecution, the Astra heads towards the yard's exit, still with its lights off.

It was claimed that Creaney can be seen getting out of the car to open gates so that it can leave.

He also allegedly threw a pair of woollen gloves contained inside latex gloves onto a low roof in the area.

DNA tests on those items provided a match for Creaney, the court heard.

During police interviews he claimed to have gone to Kennedy Way with his co-accused to get a pizza.

"He said they did so, ate it in the car and stated that they then had sex in the vehicle," Mr Maguire submitted.

"He stated that they heard a loud bang and left, fearing what it was."

Opposing bail, the barrister contended: "The consequences of what the prosecution say were the applicant's actions have been extreme and significant."

Defence counsel argued that CCTV footage only shows "a silhouette" at the windows of the premises targeted, with no identification possible.

He also insisted there is no evidence that the gloves found were used in the arson attack.

Mr Justice Huddleston was told both Creaney and his co-accused gave consistent accounts of being in the area for a pizza and their reasons for remaining at the scene.

"They moved the car so they could engage in sexual activity with each other in the car," counsel said.

"That's why they were in a more darkened corner of the yard, to gain themselves more privacy."

Refusing bail, however, the judge cited the risk of re-offending.

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