Belfast Telegraph

Prison for man who torched house 'to get his revenge'

By Ashleigh McDonald

A man who set fire to a house in a revenge-motivated arson attack was jailed yesterday.

Montassar Ghadghadi (24), who is originally from Tunisia, was earlier this year found guilty of arson endangering life after he set a property in Tandragee ablaze in June 2013.

Belfast Crown Court heard that despite the verdict, the defendant, from Clonavon Avenue, Portadown, continues to deny involvement and blames his victim.

The targeted house sustained £60,000 of damage. While the occupant was not in, she lost a number of irreplaceable items linked to her deceased child.

When the fire was set, the victim was a close friend of the arsonist's girlfriend, although she and the defendant did not get on.

Prior to sentence being passed, Crown prosecutor Kate McKay described the attack as "well-planned" and pointed out that Ghadghadi broke into the property and started two fires - one upstairs, the other downstairs.

She also told how the arson had a "major impact" on the victim, particularly in relation to the child's items.

Defence barrister Gavan Duffy QC told the court that his client had first come to Northern Ireland in 2009 to visit his brother who was already living and working in Co Armagh.

Ghadghadi came back in 2011 and married a local girl, but the union was beset with problems and lasted only a short time.

In June 2013, the defendant struck up another relationship, which resulted in a child. That relationship has also since come to an end.

Mr Duffy described his client as "emotionally immature" and said he grew up in a patriarchal family in Tunisia, where he saw his father physically and mentally abuse his mother.

But passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said that Ghadghadi's crime was compounded by the fact that, despite the guilty verdict, he continues to deny the offence, claims he was set up and to this day blames his victim.

Describing the attack as "revenge-based" and "well-planned", the judge highlighted the damage done to the property and the upset caused to the victim.

Judge Kerr also revealed Ghadghadi had been deemed "dangerous" and was seen by the Probation Board as presenting a risk of harm to the public.

The judge handed Ghadghadi a five-year custodial term, with an extended two-year period of supervised licence imposed to protect the public.

Belfast Telegraph


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