A man who took part in a violent raid on a house in Longford, during which an 11-year-old girl was set alight by a petrol bomb, has been jailed for six years.
Martin Nevin, 23, originally from Springlawn in Longford, pleaded guilty in March to a charge of damaging the property of Ann Joyce at Pauric Colum Heights on 30 September 2010, intending to damage it and endangering the life of Michaela Maughan.
Michaela was visiting the house with her brother and grandmother when the late-night attack took place.
Longford Circuit Criminal Court heard that the three visitors and the family who lived at the house were entirely innocent victims.
The court was told that Michaela suffered horrific burns and has been deeply affected by the attack.
She required plastic surgery and was left with facial, arm and chest scarring. She also lost part of her ear and had a bald patch on her head after her hair caught fire.
The court heard that Michaela is under the constant care of a senior psychologist and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Her mother, Marie Ann Maughan, described her daughter's life as "a living hell on earth".
Judge Tony Hunt described the attack as “an outrage”. The facts of the case were lamentable and of a shocking nature, he said.
Evidence at an earlier court hearing revealed that four men wearing hoodies and armed with a baseball bat and slash hook attacked the house.
They smashed windows to force their way into the house and two of the attackers were seen with plastic bottles containing rags at the top and carrying lighters.
Michaela had been sitting on a couch in the kitchen when one of the petrol bombs was thrown. She was immediately engulfed in flames.
Nevin was due to be sentenced on 28 May but the court was told that he “had appeared to indicate” that he would make a statement about another individual who was present on the night.
The case was adjourned as Judge Hunt said he would prefer if that statement was made before he would consider allowing the accused credit for it.
Prosecution counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley told the judge that there had been full co-operation and the accused man had given a substantial account of the incident.
The judge noted that four men had taken part in the attack and two had now been identified and found culpable.
He found that Nevin had made his contribution by way of “an ample statement”.
He sentenced Nevin to 12 years in prison but suspended the final six under a range of conditions, including that he have no contact with Michaela Maughan or her immediate family.