Coventry hair arsonist sentenced

by Ben Glass
February 12, 2008

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A DRUNKEN man who set a mum’s hair alight on a busy Coventry bus has been ordered to pay £500 compensation.

Seamus O’Callaghan, 51, of Ventnor Close, Wyken, was also given a four month suspended prison sentence and ordered to do 100 hours community service following the attack.

Passengers on the Number 27 in Fairfax Street watched in horror as O’Callaghan took a lighter to the hair of 50-year-old Carol Thomas.

Ms Thomas, of Stoke Green, Coventry, screamed as she helped pad out the flames with her hands, the court heard.

Seamus O’Callaghan outside Coventry Crown Court today

The bus was diverted to University Hospital where Ms Thomas received treatment for singed hair.

Judge Peter Carr, sitting at Coventry Crown Court, said: “No words describe what you did.

“Words that come to mind are crass and stupid. It was also potentially very dangerous and certainly very upsetting to the victim.

“The message should go out that if people do things like that they can expect to come to court and get a custodial sentence.”

Judge Carr added that the prison sentence would be suspended for 12 months because O’Callaghan had written a letter of apology to his victim and expressed remorse.

Theresa Thorpe, prosecuting, said Ms Thomas was travelling home when she was attacked.

She said: “She could smell something burning. She looked around and out of the window.

“Some people shouted your hair’s on fire and she patted her head.

“She did not burn her hands but she was treated for shock.”

She said other passengers heard O’Callaghan laughing before he got off at the next stop.

Ms Thorpe added he was caught after a picture of his jacket appeared in The Coventry Telegraph and admitted actual bodily harm when questioned by police.

Chris Jones, defending, said: “Words fail me.

“I’ve been coming here a long time and I can’t think of anything so stupid.

“He accepts how foolish and dangerous it could have been.”

Mr Jones said O’Callaghan had been drinking heavily at the time of the attack and had no prior convictions for violence.

He added that O’Callaghan volunteered 16 hours a week at the PDSA charity but took home £121 in benefits.

The attack happened on August 26 last year.

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