A house-proud tenant has been jailed for setting his
neighbour's property alight in Adelaide after complaining
about the untidy way she stored items in their common
Describing Aaron Scott McLean's actions as "aberrant", Judge
Peter Brebner said the 42-year-old had become "depressed,
frustrated and angry" over the carport dispute.
McLean pleaded guilty in the South Australian District Court
to arson, after he set fire last October to possessions his
neighbour stored in the carport at the Adelaide Housing Trust
home units block.
Repairs cost $85,000, with the fire causing significant
damage to his neighbour's premises and property, heat damage
to her vehicle and smoke damage to McLean's unit.
Judge Brebner jailed McLean for three years with a non-parole
period of 14 months.
He noted McLean was "extremely short of stature" which had
led to severe difficulties in life and his medical problems
had led to fears he ultimately will become paraplegic.
About six weeks before the fire, the neighbour bought a bulky
vehicle and was storing personal property in the carport.
"You say that her vehicle was restricting access to your unit
and that the carport had become unsightly as a result of her
storing her personal possessions in it," the judge said.
"You took pride in your unit's appearance and the untidiness
of the carport became a cause of concern to you.
"You say that you tried to talk all this through with her,
however, you were unsuccessful, she reported you to the
Housing Trust and tensions arose between you."
On the night of the fire, McLean was drinking heavily before
abusing his neighbour and threatening her through the screen
door for about 20 minutes.
"It is plain that you wanted her to take your threats
seriously and, as a parting shot, you announced your
intention to set fire to her unit."
The judge said the arson was "very much on the spur of the
moment" and McLean had tried to put the fire out.