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Man Gets 5 to 20 Years for Burning Own House

June 8, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marc Furber, 215.348.6339, mjfurber@buckscounty.org

A Lower Makefield Township man who cut his wrists before setting fire to his own house last fall was sentenced Tuesday to serve five to 20 years in state prison.

Kevin McNamara, 55, is an alcoholic who has been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. He told his step-daughter afterward that he had torched the house because he “didn’t want anyone to have his toys.”

McNamara’s wife of 30 years had moved to a hotel because of his bizarre and threatening behavior, and had obtained a protection-from-abuse order just before the Oct. 5 fire. Authorities were trying to serve the order on McNamara the day he set fire to the house in the 1200 block of Fountain Road.

“Everything in the house was so beautiful,” McNamara told Bucks County Judge Rea B. Boylan after pleading guilty to arson and criminal mischief. “Why would I do something so stupid? It’s ridiculous. I’m an a--hole!”

Boylan replied that it was “no coincidence” McNamara had set the fire at a time when his wife had left him and was seeking a protection order.

“Not only did you destroy her property and the house, but you placed the whole neighborhood in danger,” the judge said. “You put the firefighters who responded in danger….Sir, I do not think you understand the magnitude of what you have done.”

In addition to the state prison time for arson, Boylan sentenced McNamara to seven years of consecutive probation for criminal mischief, and ordered him to pay $363,451.33 to his homeowner’s insurance company for the damages to the house.

The house had been jointly owned by McNamara and his wife, Tamara. A small business owner, Mrs. McNamara said she had spent thousands of dollars trying to fund effective treatment for her husband’s alcoholism – “Nothing ever helped” – and had recently put another $60,000 into renovating the home.

She remained stoic about the property damages until describing the loss of personal items that had belonged to her late parents and to a son who had died. “I lost everything,” she said tearfully. “It's been horrible.”

A former forklift operator, McNamara had not worked for at least 10 years. He had been convicted five times of driving under the influence, most recently in 2013.

As his behavior deteriorated, Tamara McNamara said, she moved to a hotel in September because “he was just going berserk.” Her husband was involuntarily committed to mental health facilities twice that month, but failed to take the medications he was prescribed.

After leaving, Mrs. McNamara said, she had offered to sell the house and give her husband half of the proceeds. “He said that wasn’t good enough,” she recalled, adding that he threatened to burn the house down.

The day of the fire, she said, McNamara had called her repeatedly at work, saying police were outside the house, trying to take him away again. She told him that they were there to serve the protection order.

McNamara said he later went to his back yard, sliced both of his wrists and waited for 45 minutes. He then entered the house, poured gasoline in the upper atrium, and set it on fire. He was standing in his driveway, blood still dripping from his arms, when firefighters arrived.

McNamara’s step-daughter, Jaime James of Washington, D.C., said she visited him at St. Mary’s Medical Center after the fire to try to understand why he had set the blaze. “He said that he didn’t want anyone to have his toys,” she testified, referring to McNamara’s possessions.

The fire rendered the house uninhabitable.

“I don’t deserve to be happy or anything like that,” McNamara said in court, claiming that he still loves his wife. “I know she can’t forgive me….It’s just bad, man, it’s bad. Alcohol is awful.”

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber.

Approved for release by Matthew Weintraub, Chief of Prosecution.

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