Man jailed for arson at Myer

A BALLARAT man who lit a fire in a busy department store and destroyed a television screen at Ballarat Police Station during a fit of anger has been jailed. 



Matthew Pring, 31, pleaded guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday to six charges, including two counts of criminal damage with the intent to damage and destroy and one count each of reckless conduct endangering serious injury, intentionally destroying property, burglary and failing to answer bail.

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Gerard Burrow told the court Pring had committed offences on four separate occasions between 2008 and last Saturday night. 

Pring had been released from Ballarat Police Station on June 8, after being locked up for drunk and disorderly, when he lost his temper. 

Leading Senior Constable Burrow said Pring swung his leather belt at the TV hanging on the wall of the foyer in the police station, causing $500 in damage.

The court also heard Pring had visited the Myer menswear department on December 19, 2013, after a night of heavy drinking and set fire to a rack of men’s shirts. 

Staff extinguished the fire before fire crews arrived. 

Police said about 40 people were in the store at the time and $784 worth of shirts were damaged. 

Defence lawyer John Irwin said his client had serious problems with substance abuse.

“When he is sober and not using any kind of drug he does not fall into these situations,” he said.

Mr Irwin requested his client be assessed for a community corrections order, however he was deemed unsuitable for the program. 

Magistrate Gerard Lethbridge said Pring put himself at risk by drinking excessively. 

“You have a significant problem with alcohol and drugs as well,” he said. 

Pring was convicted and sentenced to five months’ imprisonment, with two months wholly suspended for 12 months. He has already served five days in custody.