Guide on the Penalties for Damaging or Destroying Property with Fire in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

Ahh, doughnuts. They’re the sweet and cakey desserts that are there for you when midnight cravings hit, the comfort you need when a break-up is too damn painful, the ultimate breakfast when you want to start your morning in the most irresponsible but beautiful way.

With so much to offer, these humble yet delicious treats have undoubtedly served people all over the world, allowing them to indulge in sweet-smelling happiness.

Which is why it may come with a little shock and sadness to learn that last week, a beloved doughnut store in Adelaide’s western suburbs was intentionally burnt down.

The structure was saved – but the interior, including the doughnuts at hand at the time, were sadly destroyed by the blaze.

 

The Suspicious Blaze that Required 42 Firefighters to Battle

It is reported that just after 2am on 30 January 2020, the popular Lukoumades doughnut shop at Henley Beach was hit with a suspicious blaze.

A member of the public witnessed the flames coming from the building and called for help.

Firefighters were quickly to arrive to put out the inferno on the Seaview Road premises, which was well alight by the time they entered.

Nevertheless, the fire became so vigorous that 42 firefighters were required to battle it out and nearly half an hour to extinguish.

The property was significantly destroyed internally while the exterior structure remained intact.

The flames also impacted the adjoining gelato shop, Bottega, which suffered minor damage.

 

The Estimated Damage Caused to the Doughnut Shop

According to South Australia Police, the destruction caused to the doughnut shop hit a whopping $300,000 in damage.

Police believe the fire was deliberately lit.

 

Customers Devastated by Loss of Lukoumades Doughnut Shop

Meanwhile, customers of the doughnut shop were quick to express their devastation over the incident on social media.

In a Facebook post by ABC Adelaide informing of the dubious blaze, one customer commented, “NOOOOOOO” in response to the news.

“Oh. That’s such a shame,” another wrote.

“I hope police don’t ‘glaze’ over this atrocity,” another social media user jested, making light of the dismal situation.

Guide on the Penalties for Damaging or Destroying Property with Fire in NSW

In NSW, damaging or destroying another person’s property by means of fire or explosives is an offence.

It attracts a maximum penalty of 5-years jail sentence to a person who intentionally or recklessly damages or destroys property belonging to someone else (or if it’s jointly owned by you and another) in NSW.

It attracts a maximum of 10-years jail sentence for doing this by means of a fire or explosive, prescribed by section 195(1)(b) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The maximum penalty is 6-years jail for intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging property while in the company of another person. The maximum is 11-years jail for doing this by means of a fire or explosive.

It attracts a 7-year jail sentence for intentionally or recklessly damaging or destroying property during a public disorder. The maximum is 12-years jail for doing this by means of a fire or explosive.

The penalties are also very heavy for causing a bushfire, including any other arson offence in NSW.

For the court to find you guilty of damaging or destroying property by means of a fire in NSW, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. That you either destroyed or damaged a property belonging to someone else (or jointly).
  2. That such damage or destruction was by means of a fire or explosive.
  3. That you intended to do this, or that you recklessly did this (in the sense that you were at least aware that the kind of damage caused may end up being caused, yet continued anyway).

Defences to the charge of damage or destroy property by means of a fire or explosive here includes:

  1. Self-defence.
  2. Mental illness defence.
  3. Duress or necessity.
  4. Mistaken identity.

Questions? Call our Sydney based criminal lawyers for a free consultation today. We provide free initial consultations.

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