Man randomly attacked woman after Apache Pizza arson 

by Gazette Reporter
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By Jessica Magee and Claire Henry

A man who randomly attacked a woman on the street after throwing petrol bombs into an Apache Pizza store told gardaí he was hoping for “suicide by cop”. 

After his arrest, William Cassidy (59) of Whitworth Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, told gardaí that further homemade petrol bombs found in his apartment were intended to be used for taking his own life.

Cassidy was sentenced to seven years in prison, with the final two suspended, after a hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last week.

He had pleaded guilty to arson at Apache Pizza, Drumcondra Road Lower in Dublin, on July 9 last, and to possessing two petrol bombs and causing an explosion on the same occasion.

He further admitted to assault causing harm to a female pedestrian on Drumcondra Road, as well as threatening to kill or cause her serious harm. Cassidy also pleaded guilty to possessing a knife and producing a knife and to possessing a petrol bomb at his home the following day.

Judge Martin Nolan said Cassidy was a “dangerous man” on the night in question and seemed to be labouring under mental health difficulties, which had “reached a breaking point”.

Judge Nolan said the woman could have been seriously injured and had resisted Cassidy’s attempted stabbing “like her life depended on it – which it probably did”.

The judge sentenced Cassidy to seven years for arson and to three and a half years for assault causing harm, to run concurrently, with the last two years suspended “to aid his recovery”.

Judge Nolan said Cassidy had become obsessed with the noise coming from Apache Pizza and that his arson attack had involved planning, as he had procured the petrol and brought a knife with him.

The court heard that Cassidy’s house backed onto the Apache Pizza premises and that he had previously contacted both gardaí and Dublin City Council to complain about the noise.

An investigating garda told John Quirke BL, prosecuting, that on his arrest, Cassidy said he “just wanted some peace and quiet” and had had enough of the noise.

CCTV footage played in court showed Cassidy walking up and down Drumcondra Road for about 40 minutes after midnight on the date in question and looking in the window of Apache Pizza several times.

At one point, the owner of Apache Pizza was seen sweeping up outside the shop and then going back inside, whereupon Cassidy stepped out of the shadows, lit a petrol bomb and threw it in the doorway.

He accidentally set his own jacket on fire and immediately took a second petrol bomb from his pocket and threw a second petrol bomb, which landed at the back of the shop.

The court heard that seven staff members were in the area where the petrol bomb hit, but that no one was injured and that staff managed to extinguish the fire.

The takeaway owner said several cardboard pizza boxes caught fire, and he brought these outside to extinguish them, noticing a commotion on the street.

A woman who had been walking down the road froze when she saw Cassidy with his jacket on fire throwing a petrol bomb into the pizza shop.

He looked her straight in the eye and began shouting at her, “I will get you; don’t run,” before approaching her, wielding a 6 to 8-inch knife above his head as if to strike her.

The woman fell and grabbed the knife with both hands, and a struggle ensued while Cassidy repeated, “I’m going to stab you.”

The woman later told gardaí that it was the first time in her life that she felt she was going to die and that she couldn’t get away as she was pinned to the ground.

She said a passer-by cycling home intervened and saved her life by using his bicycle to create space between Cassidy and the woman.

Another pedestrian stood on Cassidy’s hand to make him let go of the knife and held on to the knife until gardaí arrived.

Witnesses said the screams coming from the woman were “awful”  and that she was shaken and crying with blood on her knees but otherwise uninjured.

The woman did not make a victim impact statement, for reasons unknown, but told gardaí it was the most frightening experience she had ever had and that it continued to affect her, causing anxiety and sleeping difficulties.

Cassidy apologised to gardaí and, through his counsel to the injured woman, the staff and the owner at the pizzeria, saying he didn’t want to hurt anyone and just wanted “some peace and quiet”.

Cassidy has no previous convictions.

Paul Murray SC, defending, said the offences were “completely off the wall” and “not the actions of a man in the right state of mind”.

The court heard that Cassidy had previously experienced suicide ideation and had attempted suicide and that his apartment was blackened with smoke from previous attempts at self-harm.

Cassidy has a number of children whom he doesn’t see and has stopped seeing his psychiatrist, the court heard.

He worked previously for the homeless charity De Paul in a voluntary capacity but had disengaged from them also, the court heard.

Mr Murray said his client had been engaged with psychiatric services since he was aged 14 and handed in a psychiatric report, which was not read aloud.

The court heard that Cassidy cooperated with gardaí and was on an enhanced regime in prison.

Judge Nolan said that with the proper treatment, Cassidy is unlikely to reoffend in the future.

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