By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It is reported that a young woman has been arrested after she allegedly used a candle to set fire to her own home in Sydney’s north.
According to NSW Police Force, at around 10pm on 26 February 2020, multiple fire crews were called to a property engulfed by flames on Bailey Crescent in North Epping.
When they arrived at the scene, they noticed the granny-flat in a sizeable blaze, leaving nearby residents forced to evacuate their homes, some even climbing out of windows to escape.
Fortunately, the residents were able to flee from the inferno unharmed, however, despite seven NSW Fire and Rescue trucks attending and attempting to extinguish the flames, the home still suffered substantial damage to its structure.
Officers attached to Ryde Police Area Command spoke with several of the locals who had left their properties to investigate further.
After their inquest, a 20-year-old was arrested and taken to Ryde Police Station where she was charged with damage property by fire.
The woman was discovered to be a resident at the property.
She was refused bail.
Woman Allegedly Set Fire to Home in Act of Domestic Violence
According to 2GB police reporter, Helene Lambetsos, the young woman allegedly set the property on fire with the candle as an act of domestic violence in response to a bad break-up with her boyfriend.
The act followed an argument with the former partner.
Police will now be applying for an Apprehended Violence Order against the woman.
Act of Domestic Violence Sparks Debate on Facebook by Social Media Users
As news of the incident reached social media, users were quick to denounce the aggressive attack, leading to a fervent debate around the issue of domestic violence.
On a post shared by 9 News Sydney’s Facebook page, deliberations around the social problem reached both ends of the spectrum.
“Another spiteful person, couldn’t let the person just move on with their life,” one user wrote.
“Watch the feminists blame her boyfriend for it in 3,2,1…,” asserted another – which was responded with, “how is it his fault she’s got a very bad temper no wonder he wanted to dump her. Wonder what else she has done to him.”
Meanwhile, another user expressed his scepticism of the attack acknowledging men as the victim.
“Let’s call it domestic violence against men. Shall we. But no one will,” he said.
Another social media user addressed the notion of being pushed too far.
“They may use the excuse she was pushed too far or is that only used when you incinerate your children and ex partners. Domestic violence whether committed by male or female should all be charged by law in the strongest possible way. So instead of writing *turd emoji* like this how about condemn all forms of domestic violence,” the user advocated.
Woman Charged with Damaging Property by Fire in Alleged Domestic Violence Act- Law on Using Fire to Damage Property
The offence of destroying or damaging property by fire in NSW is taken seriously by the courts, reflecting the vast potential of fire to destroy possessions and cause destruction. This is especially when it occurs in a domestic violence context which is a prevalent issue in today’s society.
In NSW, if you are found guilty of damaging or destroying someone’s property using fire or explosives, you can face a maximum penalty of up to 12-years jail depending on the circumstances, prescribed under section 195 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
In summary, doing this by means of a fire or explosive carries up to 10-years jail.
Doing this in company of another person or persons carries up to 11-years jail.
However, where this is done during a public disorder, the maximum penalty the court can impose is up to 12-years jail.
In order to be found guilty of the charge of damaging or destroying property by fire, the police will have to first prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt in court:
- The accused person destroyed or damaged someone else’s property; and
- Did so by means of a fire or explosive; and
- Did so intentionally or recklessly.
A person reckless does this if heshe was aware that the kind of destruction or damage caused might have been caused at the time. Whereas, a person does this intentionally where he/she knew that such damage or destruction will result from his/her actions.
Defences to the charge of damaging property by means of fire or explosives can include: self-defence, duress or necessity, arguing that the alleged damage does not constitute damage under the law.
Got a question? Speak to one of our exclusive criminal lawyers today over a free consultation.
For specific legal information see our domestic violence laws complete guide.
This article is uniquely written by our in-house domestic violence lawyer.