A 35-year-old man has been jailed for 11 years for killing a man by setting fire to his mobile home in Co Kilkenny almost 16 years ago.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said there was a very high degree of recklessness in the actions of Martin Kelly from Church Road, Castlecomer and he had shown shocking and callous indifference to the fate of 44-year-old Gerry Nolan.

Kelly was charged in 2020 after a cold case investigation by gardaí and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The court heard Kelly set fire to the mobile home Gerry Nolan lived in, in the early hours of 24 July 2006.

Mr Nolan's brother, William, who lived beside him, wrongly identified a different person as being responsible. Martin Kelly denied any involvement.

Gerry Nolan’s family said their trauma had been made worse by the amount of time it took the matter to be resolved.

Gardaí began reviewing the case in 2015. Kelly’s girlfriend at the time, who had provided him with an alibi admitted that she had not told the truth in her original statements.

She said Kelly had left her home on the night in question, that he had taken their car and that he later admitted to her that he had killed Gerry Nolan.

The court heard Kelly had 196 previous convictions, including convictions for assault, criminal damage involving fire, burglary and a conviction for endangerment for driving a vehicle at a garda.

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He spent most of his late adolescence and adulthood in custody.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said there was a very high degree of recklessness in setting fire to a mobile home, knowing the person who lived there was inside and asleep.

Kelly had said he only meant to frighten Mr Nolan but the judge said it went beyond that and was an intention to terrorise.

Fire and its consequences were uncontrollable the judge said. He said the attack was carried out deliberately in the early hours.

Kelly had driven over intending to start a fire, not caring what injury or damage was done. He left the scene without raising the alarm and showed shocking and callous indifference to Gerry Nolan's fate.

The judge said Mr Nolan’s death had a devastating effect on his family which was deep and long lasting and made worse by the length of time they were left in a state of uncertainty over who was responsible.

In mitigation, the judge said Kelly had pleaded guilty. He said he was satisfied that his expression of remorse was sincere, although he said it was a long time coming.

The judge said he also took into account Kelly's age when the offence was carried out and his difficult upbringing in which there was a considerable level of drug and alcohol abuse in his family.

He sentenced him to 12 years and six months and suspended the final 18 months on condition that he avail of education and addiction supports.