Man accused of arson attack is denied bail

Court
Court

A man allegedly stuffed burning paper through his next door neighbours’ letterbox as part of an ongoing dispute, the High Court heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutors claimed the attack damaged the house in Lisburn and left a woman who had been inside with her partner “terrified”.

Damien Smith faces a charge of arson endangering life over the incident on March 20.

The 49-year-old, of Sloan Street in the city, has made counter-allegations of being subjected to homophobic harassment, a judge was told.

His application for bail was dismissed, however, because no suitable address is available.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said police discovered paper stuffed into the neighbours’ letterbox and still alight.

A couple inside were alerted and the fire extinguished.

A considerable amount of smoke was noted inside the property, along with damage to a draft excluder on the door.

The woman who lives there with her partner told police they had ongoing issues with Smith and thought it had been “childish” behaviour when she heard the letterbox open, court was told.

Smith was arrested at his house a short time later.

Defence counsel Kelly Doherty stressed it had been her client who initially phoned the PSNI about alleged ongoing harassment from his next door neighbours.

Ms Doherty described the accused as prone to outbursts due to a personality disorder.

But referring to the alleged arson attack and dismissing the bail application, Lord Justice Treacy said: “It goes beyond verbal aggression.”