Arsonist says penalty too harsh

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 28 Februari 2013 | 19.55

A MAN given Tasmania's second-longest jail sentence for arson in the past 40 years says he was punished too harshly for attacking his wife and burning down the family home.

Adam Robert Groenewege, 33, of Ulverstone, was convicted of arson and assault by Justice Alan Blow last September and jailed for four-and-a-half years with a non-parole period of two years and nine months.

The court heard Groenewege's crime took place as his marriage broke down and the fire had left his estranged wife and four children homeless.

The family members not only lost their home but all of their possessions in the blaze.

Groenewege's lawyer Evan Hughes told the Court of Criminal Appeal today the sentence was too harsh.

"The term of imprisonment exceeds what we submit would have been appropriate by two years," he said.

"My submission is that an offence it falls at the lower end of the range."

Mr Hughes said while 91 per cent of arsonists were jailed, half received suspended sentences and the median jail term was about 12 months.

The court heard Groenewege assaulted his wife by placing his hands around his wife's neck on the day of the fire. She fled before he torched the home.

As the fire blazed, he rang her father and sang "burn motherf--ker burn".

Groenewege's legal team also claimed the sentencing judge did not adequately take into account their client's mental health problems, which had left him nihilistic and self-destructive.

But Crown Prosecutor Jackie Hartnett said Groenewege's sentence was spot on.

"In my submission, this was an extremely bad instance of a very serious crime," she said.

"The sentence that was imposed was one that was warranted given the circumstances of this case.

"The impact of the appellant's criminal conduct ... was nothing short of devastating."

Justices Shan Tennent, David Porter and Helen Wood reserved their decision in the case.

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