Man pleads guilty to arson attack on Michelle Mulherin’s Mayo office

John Clarke threw home-made petrol bomb through office window in January 2015

A 41-year-old man is to be sentenced in February after pleading guilty to carrying out an arson attack on the constituency office of former Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin.

John Clarke, Greenhills Estate, had originally pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty before Judge Raymond MacCabe at the Circuit Criminal Court in Castlebar on Wednesday.

Mr Clarke was re-arraigned on Wednesday morning and a jury which had been hearing the case was discharged.

On Tuesday when his trial commenced, the court heard that damage amounting to €23,184 was caused when Mr Clarke threw a home-made petrol bomb through the window of Ms Mulherin's office at Casement Street, Ballina, on January 27, 2015. Ms Mulherin was a TD at the time. She is now a Senator.


No animosity

The court heard from Det Garda Pat Ruane that the accused, who was arrested following the incident under section 12 of the Mental Health Act, told gardaí he had no animosity towards Ms Mulherin and had made sure the building was empty before he did what he did.

The reason given by Mr Clarke to investigating officers for his actions was that he wanted to send a message to Taoiseach Enda Kenny about certain unlawful activities which he believed were taking place in the Mayo constituency.

The accused purchased 87 cent worth of petrol from a filling station in Ballina in a bottle after telling forecourt staff: “Don’t worry, I am a responsible person.” He then broke a hole in the politician’s window, inserted a rag, and lit the device before flinging it through the window.

After the guilty plea on Wednesday, Mr Clarke was remanded on bail for sentencing next February. An assessment is to be made as to whether the accused is suitable for community service. At the request of barrister Diarmuid Connolly, legal aid was extended to cover the cost of a psychiatric report.