PLYMOUTH — Sean O’Meara, 28, who burned down his mother Tia O’Meara’s 30 Oak Place house in June 2018 while video recording it and posting to Snapchat, has been sentenced to time served – 293 days in jail – plus four years’ condition-heavy probation by Plymouth Superior Court Judge Mark Hallal in the case of a 2018 arson fire which endangered the lives of first responders and several neighbors last year. He was also sentenced for a 2017 fire at the same house. No casualties were reported for either fire nor was any property damage reported except to the one residence. The defendant was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
Nine pieces of fire/rescue equipment and more than a dozen firefighting and EMS personnel from Halifax and multiple other communities arrived on the scene beginning at approximately 8:07 a.m. June 14, 2018. Fire Departments from Hanson, Kingston, Pembroke and Plympton all provided mutual aid, according to Halifax Fire Department reports.
The same reports said that within three minutes of the department’s first arrival, “fire eminated [sic] from all windows of [the] structure.”
The house was a total loss, valued at $250,000 according to fire reports.
The State Fire Marshall, in conjunction with other law enforcement officials deemed the fire suspicious, and Halifax Fire Chief Jason Viveiros took the lead on the investigation with Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Alex Zane. They were assisted by Halifax Police Sergeant Patrick Sterling.
State Police investigated but declined to prosecute O’Meara, which led Viveiros to champion and lead an investigation in the hopes of getting O’Meara help, records indicate.
Viveiros and Sterling visited O’Meara at an Attleboro hospital to interview him about one month after the 2018 fire.
According to court and police records, during the 2017 fire, O’Meara poured gasoline on a deck and lit a match after a dispute with his mother and girlfriend. He managed to put that fire out. Halifax Police and Fire departments responded to that incident, but O’Meara was never charged or arrested at the time.
In the run-up to the latest fire, according to court and police records, O’Meara was fighting with his mother in the early morning hours because he had eaten her leftover nachos that she was saving for lunch. They then fought over whether she should buy him cigarettes, which she eventually got for him.
He said he next smoked a cigarette and a joint, fell asleep and then sometime between 6:30 and 7:20 a.m. he was awakened by the smell of smoke, which he says is like someone cooking. He said he got up and looked around but found nothing. He said he laid down for another 15 or 20 minutes but got up again because he continued to smell the smoke.
“He told us that he went into his mothers room to find the origin of the fire, he advised us that he couldn’t see anything in his mothers room. He then told us he went into the basement to see if the fire originated there and there was smoke in the basement but no exposed flame. He told us it was dark inside the basement and there was smoke[,] but he could see no fire. He then told us that he didn’t think it was a structural fire but an electrical fire. He told us that he checked the furnace and the electrical box but found nothing,” the narrative continues.
Investigators determined the fire was set in the mother’s bedroom.
A court record containing the commonwealth’s sentencing memorandum states the following:
“She [Tia O’Meara] … began to receive several threatening and vulgar text messages from the defendant. Shortly thereafter, she received a call from her neighbor that her home was on fire. She contacted the defendant and told him to call 911. The defendant indicated that he was standing outside the home and would call 911. Subsequent call logs reveal that the defendant waited an additional 21 minutes to contact the local fire department. The defendant was observed walking in and out of the home several times during this 21-minute time frame. The defendant did not appear alarmed, afraid or concerned. During this same 21-minute time period, a neighbor … came out of her home and asked the defendant if he had called 911 for help. The defendant indicated that he had already called them … ”
What O’Meara was allegedly doing – taking photos and video and posting to Snapchat as his mother’s house was billowing smoke and then burning – was quickly discovered by investigators as O’Meara was caught on video by a neighbor who had her camera aimed at him, as he videotaped the fire.
O’Meara was charged in Plymouth District Court July 19, 2018, with arson of a dwelling and later indicted and arraigned in Plymouth Superior Court Aug. 27, 2018, on several charges which were amended down to destruction of property greater than $250 and destruction of property greater than $1,200 as part of a change of plea agreement. A drug possession charge (possession of a class E substance, allegedly steroids) was dropped by the commonwealth.
O’Meara could not be reached for comment as of press time.