A vengeful ex-boyfriend sneaked into his former partner's
home, stole her underwear then superglued keys into the
He also piled an evicted flatmate's belongings at the rear of
his property after an argument and set fire to it before
Since the arson, James Andrew Birchall, 53, a Masterton
sickness beneficiary, broke into his former partner's
laundry, "wanting to get back at her", stealing up to 20
pairs of underwear before he super-glued keys into her doors
twice to stop her getting in.
He handed himself into police.
Birchall pleaded guilty to charges of arson, burglary and
wilful damage when he appeared in Masterton District Court.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Garry Wilson said that on July 31,
2012 Birchall and a flatmate got into an argument about house
rules and Birchall asked the victim to leave.
Not wanting the flatmate to go back inside the house,
Birchall stacked the man's belongings against the rear of the
house to be collected.
Birchall set it alight as he left for an appointment, Mr
"The defendant took an oil soaked rag from the garage, lit
the rag and threw it onto the pile of belongings including a
couch, a set of drawers and gas heater."
The fire took hold and spread through the house causing
extensive damage to the property, he said.
"He denied any knowledge of the fire or how it started."
Then between November 1, 2013 and February 3 this year,
Birchall, went to his ex-partner's home and on finding her
not home, entered the laundry and stole the woman's
underwear, Mr Wilson said.
On two occasions Birchall went inside the house and glued
keys into the door locks before snapping them off in the
lock, causing $150 damage.
"He left the address and waited for the victim to arrive home
and discover the damage.
On one occasion he picked up the victim and gave her a ride
Defence lawyer James Elliott asked for the court to order a
section 38 psychiatric report be completed to assist the
court at sentencing.
Judge Walsh convicted Birchall on the three charges and
remanded him in custody for a pre-sentence report and
sentencing on July 8.
- Cherie Taylor of the Wairarapa Times-Age