German man, in Court, for Arson, Mother Dead, Ireland is no Country, for the Elderly?

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Man appears in court charged over house fire in which his elderly mother died

16th April 2022

A suspected arsonist has appeared in court in relation to a fatal house fire in Doochary, Co Donegal, on Tuesday.

Guenter Lohse (61), of Coolvoy, Doochary, Co Donegal, was brought before a special sitting of Sligo District Court this morning.

The accused man’s mother, Ruth Lohse, aged in her 80s, lost her life in the blaze at the rented home they shared together.

Mr Lohse is charged under the Criminal Damage Act that he committed arson and either intentionally or recklessly endangered life and caused damage to property owned by a Mr Martin Caulfield.

Mr Lohse was assisted throughout his detention period by a German interpreter who was also in court.

Garda Ciara Gibbons of Glenties Garda Station gave evidence of arresting, charging and cautioning Mr Lohse at Ballyshannon Garda Station at 9.49 pm on April 14.

She told the court the accused replied: “I want some sleep.”

Garda Gibbons told Judge Sandra Murphy the accused also replied: “No comment” when charged.

Garda Gibbons confirmed to solicitor for the accused Tom McSharry that Mr Lohse had been provided with medical treatment while in custody.

The court heard a doctor attended to Mr Lohse several times since his arrest.

Mr McSharry said there was no application for bail but asked his client receive urgent medical and psychiatric support while in prison, and that he be placed on suicide watch.

Inspector David Durkin asked that the defendant be remanded to the next sitting of Falcarragh District Court sitting in Letterkenny on April 20.

He also asked that a German interpreter be made available.

Judge Murphy asked if the accused man had built a rapport with his interpreter over the span of his detention and would he like the same man to attend his next hearing, to which the accused indicated he would.

Judge Murphy remanded the defendant in custody to appear via video link at Falcarragh District Court sitting in Letterkenny on April 20.

She said Lohse should receive all appropriate medical and psychiatric treatment while in custody.

“I am also directing that the accused be placed on suicide watch,” she said.

Mr Lohse was coughing and appeared to complain of significant pain at the conclusion of the hearing.

Judge Murphy also granted an application for legal aid by Mr McSharry.

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