A man was trying to destroy evidence of a fuel theft when he lit a fire that ravaged more than 1,000 hectares of land in the Tamworth region, a court has heard.
- A man has been jailed for 12 months for causing bushfire in the Tamworth region
- He was 17 at the time of the crime in October 2019
- The court heard he had been self-medicating his depression from a young age
A NSW children’s court today heard he and an accomplice stole 200 litres of diesel fuel from a logging excavator near Hanging Rock in the late hours of October 26, 2019.
The man, whose identity cannot be published because he was 17 at the time, brought his own containers to the site which were leaking fuel and carried the canisters onto the back of his getaway vehicle.
Some fuel left behind was then set alight with a cigarette lighter before the pair left the scene to go camping.
The fire destroyed 1,042 hectares of the Tamworth region, including parts of the Nundle State Forest and a commercial pine plantation.
The damage costs were estimated to be between $1.1 and $1.7 million.
The now 20-year-old pleaded guilty to two charges last year, including intentionally cause a fire and be reckless to its spread and larceny of a value greater than $2,000.
The magistrate said the offence was most grave.
The man’s defence lawyer Kimberley Norquay-Evans said he client’s intent was only to destroy the evidence of the fuel theft.
“I accept the extent of the damage, but the only consequences should be for acts that could have been reasonably foreseen,” Ms Norquay-Evans said.
She said there was no level of planning to light the greater fire that spread.
“He is extremely regretful,” she said.
This was quickly rejected by the magistrate, who said the incident was reckless.
“There was a cigarette lighter taken,” the magistrate said.
“There was containers taken.
The court heard the then-teenager had been self-medicating his depression from a young age with alcohol and cannabis.
He had no prior criminal record.
The magistrate sentenced him to 12 months in jail, to be eligible for parole in five months.