A man who started a fire in his family’s north Belfast home while his sister and her friends were inside the property has been jailed.
Marc McGrandles also punched his sister and splashed petrol over her friend during an incident which occurred on the Oldpark Road last summer.
Sentencing 22-year-old McGrandles, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said he accepted he carried out the arson while suffering from stress brought on by several personal matters, including the suicide of his cousin.
McGrandles was handed an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty to arson, and will spend half the sentence in custody, with the remaining nine months spent on supervised licence. He was also handed a one-month sentence for each of the two assault charges.
Belfast Crown Court heard that on July 20 last year, McGrandles was in his Oldpark Road home. Also present was his sister and a few of her friends.
On the day in question, McGrandles’s behaviour was described as “erratic” and he was seen crying over a photograph of his cousin.
He then took a petrol can and proceeded to spread the flammable liquid in the house before setting it on fire. He also assaulted his sister with “multiple blows” as well as splashing petrol over one of her friends.
A Crown prosecutor said that when the Fire Service arrived to deal with the fire, McGrandles was located in the house. He also told the court that the fire was superficial, with minimal damage caused.
A defence barrister said that at the time of the offending, McGrandles was suffering from depression brought on by a number of personal factors including the recent suicide of his cousin and the break-up of a relationship.
The barrister added that since the incident, McGrandles has shown genuine remorse for what he did.
Passing sentence, Judge Kerr said that after suffering a number of personal matters which “appear to have put him off the rails”, McGrandles “lost control” and carried out the arson attack.
Judge Kerr also branded the attack on his sister and the pouring of petrol over her friend as “nasty”.