Man jailed two years for two burglaries and arson

While most hunkered down during the Level 4 lockdown, a Dunedin man flooded his former workplace and torched a man’s car just metres from where a woman and her child slept.

Andrew James Chesmar (35) refused to explain his unusual behaviour on April 26 last year, which resulted in a range of charges being laid including those relating to two burglaries and an arson.

Counsel John Westgate told the Dunedin District Court this week that it was not that his client did not care but that he was “a very private man”.

Judge Michael Crosbie had a different take on Chesmar, who appeared uninterested at times as he stood in the dock.

“You’ve been exhibiting to me some attitude that comes across in the Probation report — you don’t really care or give a damn,” he said.

The defendant’s mini crime spree began with a trip to his former place of employment, a lumber yard in Mosgiel.

Knowing where the keys were kept, he let himself into the property and set a fire hose running.

The drains became blocked with sawdust, the court heard, causing more than $800 worth
of damage.

From there Chesmar travelled to Pine Hill and the home of a woman he had been seeing briefly in 2019.

During the country’s Covid-19 lockdown, she was living with another ex-partner with whom she had children.

Chesmar got inside the house through an unlocked door and grabbed a bottle of rum from the fridge while the family lay in bed, unaware they were being burgled.

The defendant then moved outside, stole a knife, tobacco and rolling papers from the male resident’s vehicle then set fire to it.

The court heard the truck was parked only three or four metres from the bedroom where Chesmar’s ex-girlfriend was sleeping with her son.

Such was the intensity of the blaze, the window of the room cracked.

Chesmar ran off but was found by police 100m from the address.

They found various stolen items on him and he was arrested.

Judge Crosbie sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay $3724.

The company that insured the burned-out vehicle was owed more than $21,000 but the judge said there was no prospect of Chesmar paying that off.

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