Jail time for 'mindless' crime

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 01 Maret 2013 | 19.55

THE actions of a Kingston man who torched his neighbour's unit have been described as "mindless and stupid" by a Supreme Court judge.

Father-of-two Darrell John Smith, 35, was earlier convicted in the Hobart court of arson, attempted arson and breaching a restraint order.

Justice Shan Tennent said Smith started the fire in the Wattle St unit in November 2011 after a long-running dispute with the female occupant.

The unit was destroyed and the uninsured woman lost all of her possessions. Her cat was also killed.

The court heard the blaze broke out after Smith tried but failed to set fire to the unit with a Molotov cocktail made from a sauce bottle earlier that evening.

Smith told police he had nothing to do with the crime, but a listening device planted in his unit recorded him telling associates he was responsible.

When confronted with the evidence against him, Smith threatened to burn his own unit down.

His sentencing hearing heard he sometimes found it difficult to make good decisions.

Justice Tennent sentenced Smith to three-and-a-half years in jail, with a two-year non-parole period.

"Your actions on this night were dangerous in the extreme," she said.

"People could have been killed as a result of your mindless and stupid actions.

"Considerable property damage was caused as a result of your actions."

Justice Tennent also ordered Smith to repay the cost of the unit and the woman's lost possessions -- a bill which will exceed $200,000.

"Despite the fact that you have said you will pay off the cost, the likelihood of Housing Tasmania recovering that cost in the foreseeable future is in my view very low.

"The crime of arson is easy to commit and difficult to detect, yet it carries with it such a great potential for harm.

"There must in the circumstances be a sentence which might deter you from committing this sort of crime again and also deter others who might also be minded to try it."

david.killick@news.com.au


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