A DELACOMBE man who set fire to a former schoolmate’s house blamed him for an assault and torture period when he was younger, Ballarat Magistrates Court heard yesterday.
Two people accompanying Beau Whelan also received serious burns during the incident when they were accidentally set on fire.
Whelan, 31, pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal damage by fire and one of intentionally destroying property.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Clint Prebble told the court Whelan drove to a property in Leith Street, Redan on December 10 last year and poured accelerant all over the fence and front yard before setting it alight, but it was quickly put out by the home’s owners.
Senior Constable Prebble said Whelan returned with another male and female on December 12 with a jerry can of fuel that had spilt on his passengers as they got into his vehicle.
They again drove to the Leith Street premises, poured the petrol on the porch and set the front of the house alight.
However, the two accomplices also caught fire and were both taken to The Alfred Hospital with serious burns.
Senior Constable Prebble said Whelan’s only connection to the victim was they went to school together and the fires caused $20,000 damage to the house.
Defence counsel Mike Wardell said evidence pointed to one of the other people actually lighting the second fire, and that Whelan believed the victim had tormented him years earlier.
He also said Whelan had been diagnosed as a high-functioning schizophrenic, who also had drug and alcohol issues.
“He was obsessed with getting even with various persons,” Mr Wardell said.
“He now has a clear head and has taken the time to reflect.
“He now uses the system to take action against people, rather than taking matters into his own hands.
Magistrate Kay Robertson said Whelan had engaged in “incredibly serious conduct”.
She sentenced him to an aggregate fine of $2000 and a 15-month community corrections order, taking into account the five-and-a-half months he has also spent in custody.