The hardest thing for a woman whose car was deliberately
burnt by her son because of his anger about an unpaid loan
was her feeling she had been betrayed, a Dunedin judge said
"She says her life will never be the same again,'' Judge
Michael Crosbie told 28-year-old Dunedin tattooist Darcy
Aaron Purches, who was sentenced to 16 months' jail for
Purches was before the judge in the Dunedin District Court
after earlier admitting he intentionally damaged his mother's
Hyundai Lantra by dousing it with petrol and setting it
alight on December 7.
He also admitted unrelated charges of failing to stop after
his car collided with a taxi in Princes St on December 8,
driving dangerously and with a breath alcohol level of 548mcg
on Taieri Rd on May 3 and two charges of failing to report
for community work between April 29 and May 13 and May 23 and
Judge Crosbie said the defendant's mother was "pragmatic''
about the money but sad she had lost her relationship with
her son. And she was worried about the threats he had made in
text messages before the fire.
She had guaranteed a personal loan for her son so he could
buy a car, and also lent him money. But when he failed to
continue the loan payments and had not repaid any of her
money, she spoke to him about the matter. He became very
angry and abusive, sent threatening text messages to her then
set fire to her car.
Crown counsel Richard Smith said while home detention was an
alternative to a prison sentence, arson was a serious charge
and prison was the appropriate sentence.
Counsel Anne Stevens said Purches was ashamed at his loss of
control towards his mother. He had undertaken a stopping
violence programme which he found helpful, and was open to
doing more work on his anger control.
Judge Crosbie said the victim impact statement was sad and
spoke of the far-reaching effects of the defendant's
behaviour. Because he had reneged on repaying the loan
guaranteed by his mother, it was some time before she was
able to get another car.
The judge acknowledged references from the defendant's
partner and her mother as well as a reflective letter from
Purches himself about the helpfulness of the stopping
But he said the offending was aggravated by the defendant's
Probation did not support a sentence of home detention and
the arson was a sudden escalation of Purches' offending, and
an indication of his likelihood to cause harm in the future.
Declining to substitute home detention, Judge Crosbie
sentenced Purches to 16 months' jail on the arson, with
concurrent prison terms of one month each on the driving
charges on which he was also disqualified for six months.
His prison sentence is to be followed by counselling and
treatment for six months under post-detention conditions.
On the breaches of community work, Purches was convicted and
discharged and the uncompleted sentence was cancelled.