Arsonist’s attack on digger delayed water mains work

Ballymena Magistrates Court

AN arsonist who tried to torch a digger in Antrim town which meant work on watermains was delayed has been given a six months prison term, suspended for two years.

Stephen Richard Woodage (31), of Latharna House, Larne, pleaded guilty to a charge of arson arising out of the incident which happened on January 11 this year at Abbeyfield Park.

He had previously carried out an arson attack on bins in Larne belonging to the Salvation Army, a bingo hall and a bookies.

Referring to the machinery arson in Antrim, a prosecutor told an earlier hearing: “This delayed work to the watermains”.

Defence barrister Andrew Moriarty told the earlier court the arsons were “a very random thing inspired by copious quantities of alcohol”.

He added: “It is not the case that he is a pyromaniac”.

Mr Moriarty said that at that time in the defendant’s life “things really seemed to have fallen apart”.

The barrister said there was no obvious motive and in said the defendant said they were “acts of stupidity”.

At the court in June this year, District Judge Nigel Broderick deferred sentencing until December to see if Woodage could stop offending and he also ordered him to bring £480 compensation to the court with a warning that any failures could see him jailed.

Back at the court on December 13, it was heard an eye-witness, who knew Woodage, saw him trying to set fire to a digger. Police later located a lighter and burnt cardboard.

Woodage had brought £480 compensation to court and Judge Broderick said the defendant had been given a chance to prove himself and he appeared to have done that.

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