Serial arsonist jailed for killing uncle in revenge house fire

Serial arsonist jailed for killing uncle in revenge house fire

A serial arsonist who killed his uncle after setting his house ablaze in an act of revenge has been jailed for seven-and-a half-years for manslaughter.

The court was previously told that the defendant Daniel Murray was more concerned about the welfare of the family dog when informed that a body had been discovered in the burnt-out home.

Sentencing Murray at the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday , Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the accused held “a degree of animus” from time to time against his uncle Patrick Oliver Murray and he had demonstrated a level of indifference to what happened that night.

Daniel Murray (40) was charged with the murder of Patrick Oliver Murray on August 2nd, 2018, at Derrylurgan, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan after telling gardaí the house “went up like a matchbox” when he set fire to some sheets with a lighter.

He denied the murder charge when he appeared before Mr Justice McDermott at the Central Criminal Court earlier this month, admitting manslaughter instead.

Murray, of no fixed abode, had also admitted arson intending to endanger the life of another, at the same date and place. His plea was accepted by the State at a hearing last September.

The court has heard that Murray has 48 previous convictions, several of which were for arson attacks carried out at nearby properties.

Before delivering the sentence on Tuesday, Mr Justice McDermott said he had received a number of reports concerning the defendant including a probation report, a psychological assessment and a letter of apology from him for the death of his uncle.

Passing sentence, the judge said Murray held a degree of animus against his uncle from time to time but he had no intention to kill him. “The situation the uncle faced was appalling, he was left in a house where the fire started,” he added.

The judge said the facts underpinning the case suggested a level of offending of “a very serious and reckless kind” and it was unfortunate that his uncle had gone to sleep in the house that night.


Regarding the defendant, Mr Justice McDermott said he had demonstrated a level of indifference as to what happened that night and by what he did in the aftermath of the fire.

Despite Murray expressing his remorse for the incident, the judge said the nature and extent of the offending was of a “very serious kind” which had led to the death of his uncle and the taking of a life. Furthermore, he said, circumstances were made all the more serious by the accused’s history of violence and his behaviour for setting fire to people’s property.

Having regard to the gravity of the offence, the judge said there was a very high degree of recklessness involved as to what Murray did that night, when set against his background of setting fire to other places including neighbours hedges, gardens or trees. “These are very disturbing elements and I’m taking that into account in setting the appropriate penalty in this case,” he said.

Referring to the “very moving” victim impact statement, Mr Justice McDermott said the deceased Patrick Oliver Murray was brought to life “in quite a moving way” and that he had been described as quite a good-humoured man.

A victim impact from the deceased’s eldest brother was read to the court earlier this month by prosecution counsel James Dwyer SC.

Mr Liam Murray said he had “great memories” of his brother, whom he described as “quiet but good humoured”. He said his brother had stayed in the family home to look after their mother after his siblings had left to raise their families.


Read More