‘Dead man’ blamed after shed torched
A WOMAN who blamed a now dead 72-year-old man for an arson has been found guilty of the crime by an Ipswich jury.
The fire sparked after a complaint about the elderly man's urine night bags.
Debbie Anne Bodero, 51, maintained her innocence during her trial at Ipswich District Court. The jury found Bodero guilty of committing arson by setting fire to a shed at Brightview on September 10, 2009; and guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The trial heard William 'Jim' Kennedy, 72, who has since died, lived in a flat built inside the shed
Witness Daryl Singleton, 54, told the court he saw Bodero light a piece of cardboard and push it through a gap in the door of Kennedy's room.
Mr Singleton said curtains caught fire and the blaze spread rapidly. The shed and a caravan were destroyed.
Mr Singleton admitted to at first lying to police about who caused the fire. Mr Singleton said he later told police the truth "because it was playing on my mind".
The court heard the incident was sparked after a neighbour complained to a real estate agent that the elderly man, William 'Jim' Kennedy, was dumping bags of urine near a neighbour's fence.
Prosecutor Stephen Kissick, in opening the Crown case against Bodero, 51, said she deliberately lit cardboard and pushed it though a doorway into Mr Kennedy's room after an argument about a letter received from the real estate agent on the issue.
The court heard this ignited curtains, causing a fire that spread across a breezeway connecting the brick house and destroying the shed at 5 Coachwood Court.
Photos showed it caused extensive damage. A signed statement to police, written by Mr Kennedy before his death, was tended as evidence. Mr Kissick told the jury Bodero accused Mr Kennedy of causing the fire.
"She provided a statement nominating Mr Kennedy as the arsonist," he said.
The court heard Mr Kennedy was initially charged, after he also told police he did it.
The charges were later discontinued when Mr Kennedy told police his admission was false.
Mr Kissick said a witness, Daryl Singleton, also made a statement saying Mr Kennedy lit the fire. He later told police he had not told the truth.
"The Crown case is that Ms Bodero lit the fire and that she nominated someone else. And encouraged Mr Singleton to tell the first story, that it was Mr Kennedy who lit the fire," Mr Kissick said.
Mr Kennedy's statement given from 2010 was read to the jury.
He said that on the night of the fire he was drinking wine under a covered area with Mr Singleton when Bodero brought up the matter of a letter she received.
"It was about me emptying my urine night bag in the backyard," he said.
"I went to bed. Someone tried to open the door. I had a piece of dowel (wedged in). I could hear screaming out. I see pieces of lit cardboard pushed through the (partially) open door.
"Fire caught on curtains. Curtains in flames. I tried to get water but it was no use."
In his evidence to the court, wheelchair-bound Daryl William Singleton, 54, a disability pensioner from Plainland, said Jim and Debbie argued that afternoon.
"Jim started the fire, is that the truth?" Mr Kissick asked, referring to Mr Kennedy's first statement to police.
"No it wasn't. Debbie told me to tell them that so she wouldn't lose the kids," he said.
Mr Singleton said he was later charged over his first statement and pleaded guilty in court.
When cross-examined by Tony Jamieson, the defence barrister for Bodero, Mr Singleton said they were "boyfriend, girlfriend" and he did think that he once asked her to marry him.
"No way she meant to burn the place down," he said, adding that she had only been trying to get Jim to come out.
"You told her after the fire if she didn't marry you would retract your statement to police," Mr Jamieson said.
"No," Mr Singleton said.
In her evidence, Bodero strongly denied lighting the fire. During cross-examination she said she was sober at the time.
After the guilty verdict Bodero was allowed bail. She will be sentenced at Brisbane District Court on April 7.