Fire-bug sentenced to jail for lighting fires in Selwood Lane in January

FIRE-BUG: Despite having a confirmed intellectual disability and living in a supervised group home a man was sentenced to a minimum of nine-months jail when he was sentenced in Orange Local Court on Monday. FILE PHOTO
FIRE-BUG: Despite having a confirmed intellectual disability and living in a supervised group home a man was sentenced to a minimum of nine-months jail when he was sentenced in Orange Local Court on Monday. FILE PHOTO

A man who lit spot fires along Selwood Lane and Ginns Road at Springside in January has been sentenced to 15 months’ jail with nine months non-parole.

Darryl White, 30, had been living in a care home at Selwood Lane when he took paper towel and a lighter on January 26 and started lighting fires in the grass beside the road.

A report tended to the court said he was on cooking duties when he took the items and lit the fires after becoming “emotional and enraged” by verbal abuse from another resident.

According to the report staff were moving other residents away from him when White left the home and used the lighter to set fire to pieces of paper towel, which he then dropped in the dry grass beside the road.

The offence took place about 7.30pm on January 26 and was seen by passers-by who followed him and tried to extinguish the spot fires with Springside and Spring Hill Rural Fire Service volunteers also preventing the fires taking hold. 

White appeared in Orange Local Court via audio visual link on Monday for sentencing on the charge of causing or setting fire to the property of another or the crown.

His back-dated sentence will run from January 27 to April 26, 2018, but he could be released on bail on October 26, 2017, and has expressed an interest in going into another group home in the Newcastle area. 

White was in custody for a month while awaiting sentencing after deciding not to apply for bail.

His solicitor Kate Bleasel argued that White had a significant intellectual disability and previous offences had been dealt with under section 32 of the Mental Health Act.

However magistrate Terry Lucas decided to deal with the fire as a criminal matter and formally refused bail when White appeared before him on January 30 and a section 32 application was made.

“I believe it is a appropriate to deal with the matter, section 32 does not apply,” Mr Lucas said at the time. 

On Monday Ms Bleasel referred to the section 32 application and said her client had “horrific exceptional circumstances” from his childhood, and imprisonment would not be effective as a general deterrence for him.

However, Mr Lucas decided jail was the only option.

“You set fire, that’s why you are before the court today,” Mr Lucas told White.

He said at that time of year there was a risk of the fire gripping hold and leading to a loss of lives.