AFTER deliberately setting fire to his car in his backyard to claim the insurance money, Michael Jones locked himself inside his house in Mangowa Close and pretended to be asleep while police and emergency services hammered on his door.
Yesterday in Orange Local Court, Jones, 51, was ordered to undertake 150 hours of community service and was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.
Magistrate Bruce Williams told the accused that just because he found himself in a dire financial situation, he had no right to try to defraud his insurance company.
He said if Jones had not had a good record he would have sent him to jail.
“If you are under financial stress it doesn’t mean you can dud someone else,” he said.
Mr Williams said he wanted to send a clear message to the community about the penalties for such actions.
Police evidence presented to the court said Jones had found himself in financial difficulty in the 12 months leading up to the incident in September, 2012, as he was trying to pay off two vehicles, the Subaru Impreza, which was destroyed by fire, and a second four-wheel-drive, with both financed by separate finance companies.
Evidence also showed the accused had missed several car payments on both vehicles prior to the incident.
NRMA records used as part of court evidence by police revealed the Subaru was insured for $44,900, however, with high mileage on the odometer for its age, the vehicle only had a market value of $20,000.
Esanda finance was still owed $55,000 in payments on the vehicle.
Police evidence also showed Jones had asked a colleague to take his Subaru to Gosling Creek in August last year and set fire to it in exchange for a set of mag wheels.
However, a nearby resident called police after reporting the vehicle parked there.
When police arrived at the vehicle with Jones they said it was locked and undamaged, but smelled strongly of petrol fumes.
Jones was supported in court by work colleagues as he pleaded guilty to dishonesty for gain, damaging property by fire and false representation resulting in a police investigation.