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Attempted arsonist avoids jail after ‘intoxicated move’

A man who was so intoxicated by “the demon drug” he can’t remember an arson attack on a family’s car has avoided jail.

The man pleaded guilty to one count of attempted arson – which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment – and was sentenced to home detention in Masterton District Court.

Before the sentence was handed down, the man addressed his family sitting in the public gallery.

“I just want to say I’m sorry. Sorry to my family.”

Judge Barbara Morris said the arson attempt happened after a dispute over a stereo.

She said the man had been drinking at home before attending a house party.

The party passed without incident but when he returned home, the man could not find his stereo.

He went back to the house party and accused the homeowners of stealing it.

Judge Morris said the homeowners could not convince the man that he had taken it with him.

“You later found the stereo at home.”

She said it was then that the man lit a beer box on fire and placed it under a car in the driveway.

“There were young children and teenagers at home. Fortunately, the occupants of the house saw you do that on CCTV.

“It could have been much worse. A car with petrol in it could have blown up and, relatively close to the house, caused damage.

Judge Morris said the incident had left the children feeling unsafe in their home.

“I’m sure as a father you can relate to the trauma this would have caused the family.”

She acknowledged that the man had been drinking heavily prior to the incident and although that did not limit his blameworthiness , it
“explains the unexplainable”.

“You were extremely remorseful and can’t even recall doing this.”

Judge Morris said the starting point for sentencing was 15 months in prison.

However, she said the man’s remorse and his early guilty plea reduced that sentence to 11.5 months.

In addition, she said the attempted arson was not premeditated.

“This was an impetuous intoxicated move.”

She said a hybrid sentence of home and community detention was appropriate – so he would be penalised, but not his children.

The man was sentenced to six months community detention with a night curfew from Monday to Thursday, as well as a weekend curfew, and was ordered to pay $500 in emotional harm reparation.

“This was out of character for you. You did not do yourself or your family proud,” Judge Morris said.

“The key for you is to stay away from the demon drug.”

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