Damaging Property by Fire Offences in NSW

Sahar Adatia.

 

People do the darnedest things.

Take the case of a Wollongong woman who allegedly decided she would deliberately light her house on fire to destroy it and land herself a court attendance notice in the process.

The 62-year-old woman is believed to have carried out the disturbing act back on Sunday 29 August 2021 around 5:45pm, according to reports from local news outlet The Illawarra Mercury.

Emergency services received reports that a house on Henry Street, Tarrawanna, was on fire, and responded immediately.

Officers attached to Wollongong Police District attended the scene, and upon arriving, discovered the house “well alight”.

While Fire and Rescue NSW managed to extinguish the inferno, the home was significantly damaged.

Thankfully, no one was inside the property at the time and there were no injuries.

That night, the resident attended Wollongong Police Station, however was released while officers investigated the incident.

Nevertheless, after following inquiries surrounding the blaze, around 10am on Thursday 23 September, the woman was arrested at the police station.

She was subsequently charged with damaging property by fire.

The Tarrawanna woman was granted conditional bail to appear in Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday 19 October 2021.

 

Not the First Time A Home in Wollongong Has Fallen Victim to Deliberate Blaze

Call it a coincidence, but this isn’t the first time a home in Wollongong has succumbed to a deliberate fire.

Back in August 2016, a divorcee was found guilty of burning down a Coniston house so his ex-wife wouldn’t get it in their divorce.

Krste Kovacevski claimed he still owned the Coniston house in the early hours of August 4 as he doused fuel through its rooms, dropped a piece of paper to the ground that was set alight, and watched the place burn down from the comfort of his granny flat.

Nevertheless, when the 75-year-old man faced Wollongong court over the matter, Magistrate Mark Douglass ruled otherwise, saying Mr Kovacevski destroyed the uninsured, owned-outright home after losing it in divorce proceedings.

The magistrate found the home didn’t belong to Mr Kovacevski and that he was well aware of this given he signed it over in the presence of his lawyer just the day before.

“It was after that acknowledgement that the accused, with malice, sought to damage the property,” Magistrate Douglass said.

The matter left Mr Kovacevski’s elderly ex-wife in a state of complete distress.

At the time of the fire, police discovered Mr Kovacevski in the granny flat of the Jutland Avenue property.

When interrogated by firefighters, he pointed to a folder of divorce paperwork and said, “that’s where it started”.

The man admitted he had started the blaze and was subsequently arrested.

He confessed to police that he poured kerosene through the hallway, outside the bathroom and throughout the loungeroom before setting a piece of paper on fire and releasing it in the fuel.

The fire caused the roof of the house to cave in and left neighbouring properties in danger, the residents of which were forced to be evacuated.

Damaging Property by Fire Offences in NSW

In NSW, it is against the law to destroy or damage another person’s property by means of fire or explosives.

This criminal offence is reflected in section 195(1b) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which makes clear that a person guilty of the offence can face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in jail.

Moreover, given the circumstances in which the offence took place, the maximum penalties you can face may increase.

In particular, if you destroyed or damaged the property in the company of another person or persons, the new maximum penalty you can face is up to 11 years in jail.

Additionally, where the offence took place in these circumstances as well as being at the time of a public disorder, the new maximum penalty you can face increases again to up to 12 years in jail.

Questions? Speak to a criminal lawyer Wollongong based today.

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