Arson attack leads to work being delayed on water mains

Ballymena Magistrates Court

Work on watermains was delayed after a man set fire to a digger which cost almost £500 to repair, a court heard today.

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 in Antrim town.

Ballymena Magistrates Court heard Woodage was previously dealt with in court in January this year for arson to bins in Larne.

They belonged to the Salvation Army, a bingo hall and a bookies.

Referring to the machinery arson in Antrim, a prosecutor said: “This delayed work to the watermains”.

Defence barrister Andrew Moriarty said the incidents were “something of a curiosity”.

He said 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”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he was deferring sentencing until December to see if Woodage can stop offending and continue to engage with a group aimed at getting him employment.

The judge also ordered Woodage to bring £480 compensation to the court before Christmas and warned that any failures could see him jailed.

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