04 Oct 2022

Covid prevents court appearance of arson accused

The man was due to appear via video link in connection with a fatal house fire in Doochary last week

Investigations into Doochary fire continue

Gardai secure the scene of the house fire in Doochary

A man who was set to appear at court in Donegal in connection with an arson in which his mother died was unable to after contracting Covid-19.

Guenter Lohse (61) was due to appear before Wednesday’s sitting of Falcarragh District Court in relation to a fatal house fire at Coolvoy, Doochary on Tuesday, April 12.

Solicitor for Lohse, Mr Tom McSharry, told Judge Deirdre Gearty that his client was unable to appear due to ‘ill health’.

Inspector Seamus McGonagle indicated that the accused could not be brought from his cell at Castlerea Prison in line with Covid-19 regulations.

Mr McSharry applied for a two-week adjournment.

There were no objections from Gardaí and Lohse will now appear via video at the May 3 sitting of Letterkenny District Court.

Mr McSharry asked that a German interpreter be available on the next date.

Lohse is charged with arson with intent to, or being reckless to endangering life in relation to a house fire in Doochary.

A woman in her eighties was found dead following the blaze. 

Lohse was brought before Judge Sandra Murphy at Sligo District Court on Friday.

Then, Garda Ciara Gibbons of Glenties Garda Station gave evidence of arresting and cautioning the defendant at Ballyshannon Garda Station on April 14 at 21.49.

She told the court that Lohse replied: ‘I want some sleep.’

At 22.59 he was charged with committing arson in that he damaged by fire a house in Coolvoy, Doochary belonging to Martin Caulfield, intending to damage such property and endanger the life of another, or being reckless as to whether such property would be damaged. 

Garda Gibbons told the court that when charged the defendant replied: ‘No comment.’

Judge Murphy directed that Lohse should receive all appropriate medical and psychiatric treatment while in custody and added that the accused be placed on suicide watch.

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