Anger and a desire for vengeance, combined with alcohol,
probably led a Mosgiel man to light fires causing $100,000
damage to his former partner's home and belongings last
Christmas Day, Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said yesterday.
Before the judge in the Dunedin District Court was
38-year-old Andrew Chiles Grant who earlier admitted setting
fire to the lounge curtains and a towel in the house he had
previously shared with his partner and their two children.
The three victims were absent at the time but were
"completely devastated" by the destruction to their home and
contents, the judge told Grant.
The children had lost many items which were special to them,
including various certificates and photograph. They all felt
violated by what had been done and believed the offending was
likely to haunt them for the rest of their lives,
particularly at Christmas time.
Grant was sentenced to three years' jail for the arson, with
a concurrent one-month term on a charge of wilful trespass.
But Judge O'Driscoll said he was not prepared to make a
reparation order against the defendant as he was was not in a
position to pay for the damage within a reasonable time.
Counsel John Westgate stressed it had not been a case where
there was any danger to life. Grant had checked there was
nobody in the house before lighting the fires. He had not
been to prison before but accepted prison was the only
Mr Westgate asked for a term starting at four years, with a
25% discount for the guilty plea. He also asked for an
allowance for the defendant's problems with depression.
Crown counsel Richard Smith said the starting point should be
between five and six years, with a reduction to somewhere
between three years and nine months and four years and four
months, to take into account any mitigating factors.
Judge O'Driscoll said he was more inclined towards the
starting point suggested by Mr Westgate.
And he said he would not add anything for Grant's prior
offences against the same victim. But he also decided not to
take the defendant's depression into account. He believed it
was anger and a desire for vengeance, rather than depression,
which led Grant to behave as he did.
Grant had indicated he was not taking his medication at the
time and believed that, if he had been, he would not be
standing where he was.