A DRUG addict who owed his dealer money was pressurised to carry out a number of arson attacks in County Limerick over the loss of sulky race horses.
John Ryan (24) of Carriage Beg, Doon started fires at three farms in county Limerick causing damage estimated at more than €80,000.
The fires were in response to a vigilante-style attack in September 2015 when three horses were killed.
Limerick Circuit Court heard that a fire at an East Limerick farm last year, sparked the revenge attacks carried out by John Ryan, who owed a major drug dealer a considerable sum of money.
On September 28, 2015, a fire was started deliberately at a farm in Doon where a shed with hay and two bulloks were destroyed. €15,000 worth of damage was caused.
A week later, on October 5, Ryan started another at a farm also near Doon causing €43,000 in damage. He carried out a third attack near Oola the next day which caused over €22,000 in damage.
After his arrest he told Gardaí he was annoyed because one of his sulky horses died in a fire. He had read a claim in a Sunday newspaper that vigilantes in Doon were responsible for the fire in which the horses perished.
He told a clinical psychologist that the arson attacks were sheer acts of stupidity and he carried them out on the orders of a man he owed €16,000 in drugs debts. He said he was also in fear of the drug dealer as he had beaten him up in the past.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said that the premeditated attack caused “wanton destruction” which left people considerably out of pocket.
He jailed John Ryan for six years but suspended the last 18 months and backdated the jail term to October 2015 when he was taken into custody.