Mother of boy killed in fire makes victim impact statement

Tuesday 03 June 2014 23.35
Stephen Hughes died in a fire in the den where he had been sleeping overnight on 1 September 2001
Stephen Hughes died in a fire in the den where he had been sleeping overnight on 1 September 2001

The mother of a 12-year-old boy who died after the den he was sleeping in was set on fire has said she hopes he gets the justice he deserves so that he can rest in peace.

Stephen Hughes died in a fire in the den where he had been sleeping overnight on 1 September 2001.

Dermot Griffin, 54, from Ballyfermot Road in Dublin, denied starting the fire at Rossfield Avenue in Tallaght 13 years ago but was convicted of manslaughter by a jury at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He will be sentenced in three weeks.

Elizabeth Hughes told the Circuit Criminal Court today that the family remains devastated and grieves every single day for her son who was so cruelly taken away.

In a victim impact statement she said Stephen was her first-born child, the first grandchild and great grandchild in the family.

Stephen’s 14-year-old friend Daryl Hall managed to escape the fire and raise the alarm.

He testified that the last thing he saw Stephen do was eat a jelly sweet before he went to sleep.

The jury was told by Griffin’s former partner Tracey Deegan that she originally lied to gardaí 13 years ago to cover for him, that Griffin said he wanted to burn the den because he did not want joy riders or gardaí in the area.

She also testified that Griffin went out twice that night and even though he told her he had felt a foot in the den the first time, he still went out again and set it on fire.

Detective Sergeant Mary Fitzpatrick told the court today that Griffin has 39 previous convictions dating back to 1977 - including convictions for firearms offences, drug dealing, burglary, robbery and assault causing harm.

The court was also told the DPP views the crime as being in the severe category of manslaughter offences.

Ms Hughes said the past 13 years have been the longest and the saddest but thanked the gardaí in Tallaght and the witnesses who came forward and gave evidence.

"Thank God this day has come", she told the court, adding “I hope my child gets the justice he deserves”.

Judge Patricia Ryan said she needed time to consider the case and will sentence Griffin in three weeks.