Jilted grandmother jailed for arson

A jilted grandmother embarked on a campaign of intimidation after her ex-partner ended their relationship, which included repeatedly setting fire to the man's Tokoroa home.

Judith Merel Ane Meha, 49, was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua today to four and a half years' jail after she was earlier found guilty of three counts of arson and one of attempted arson.

Justice Jillian Mallon said Meha met a man on an internet dating site and moved into his home in February 2012. The relationship deteriorated and in July 2012 he asked her to move out and helped her find a new house.

He began receiving texts from Meha, purporting to be someone else and encouraging him to get back with her. On September 2 he made it clear that was not going to happen.

On September 5 she sent him a series of texts, including "I am going to make your life hell", "you have hurt Judy for the last time", "are you sh****** yourself?", "you have got a very nice house I know where you live''.

Around 6am on September 7 the victim smelled smoke, opening his back door and found his doormat on fire, with flames up to his knees. He put it out with a bucket of water.

He installed dummy security cameras on his property and on September 11 he got a text saying ``you must be scared you put up cameras''.

At 12.30am on September 12 Meha set fire to the hedge at the front of the victim's house. He was asleep and the fire was put out by neighbours. He then received a text saying "check your house'' and later "how's your hedge?''.

At 1am on September 14, Meha set fire to the man's front door - he was woken by smoke alarms and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher. He got a further text saying "did you like your wake up call?"

On September 21 at 2.53am Meha used petrol to set fire to a rubbish bin lid placed against the wall of the victim's bedroom as he slept. She was caught by police climbing over his hedge.

The judge said in total around $10,000 damage was done to the victim's house.

In his victim impact statement, the man said he was "emotionally and mentally wrecked'' as a result of the arsons. He said he was concerned Meha would target him again and he would consider leaving Tokoroa when she was released.

Justice Mallon said Meha, a mother of five and grandmother of six, had had a difficult life and a "long history of traumatic experiences''. However, a psychiatrist found no clear signs of a formal mental health disorder or any signs she didn't know what she was doing.

Meha, who had no previous criminal convictions, continued to maintain her innocence and had showed no remorse, the judge said.

- By Katie Holland of the Rotorua Daily Post 

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