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Judge rules out conviction for drunken firestarter

A young man has been discharged without conviction after he and a friend drunkenly set fire to the Kuripuni Shopping Village sign.

Dane Pullman, a 21-year-old furniture remover from Masterton, appeared in Masterton District Court on Friday, having admitted to reckless damage by fire, which carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.

Pullman and co-offender Danyon Wickham had been drinking heavily at a party on July 23, 2022.

On their way home, they set fire to the council-owned sign, then added another sign to the blaze and watched it burn for 20 minutes.

A member of the public called the police, and no buildings were damaged.

Judge Barbara Morris said arson offences are not usually handled with a discharge without conviction.

“This is a serious charge: damaging property by fire with reckless disregard to the safety of others,” Jude Morris said.

“The public would be rightly concerned about this offending.”

Judge Morris said that for a discharge without conviction, she would need to be convinced that the effect of a conviction was out of all proportion to the offending.

She noted Pullman entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity, had no prior convictions, and was polite, respectful, and engaging with counselling according to probation.

“I can see that you are extremely remorseful; you saw it as intoxicated stupidity in the sober light of day when you realised how serious it was.”

Pullman had a letter from his employer saying he is a good worker and has been upfront and honest about what happened.

Judge Morris said the offending was very out of character and that it appeared that Pullman was led on by Wickham, who was previously discharged without conviction.

She said a conviction for intentional fire would appear more serious than the offending actually was to future employers or if Pullman wanted to move to another country.

“In all these circumstances, it seems having a conviction for seven years, in these important young years where you are developing your career, would be out of all proportion,” Judge Morris said.

“You’re discharged without conviction.”


  1. Be good to have the judges explanation for the discharge. It’s a known fact small crimes push the boundaries. After the first time your brain seeks more boundaries to push. Community hours? Lot’s of cleaning to do within Kuripuni village.

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