The house at 284 Brisbane Rd, West Ipswich.
The house at 284 Brisbane Rd, West Ipswich. CoreLogic

Troubled petrol sniffer lights squat and partner on fire

A PETROL sniffer and drug abuser responsible for splashing his partner with petrol and burning down a cottage on Brisbane St, West Ipswich was paroled in Ipswich District Court earlier this week.

Scott Kerry James, 28, pleaded guilty to a list of crimes including arson, entering premises with intent, create a disturbance on public transport, fare evasion, nine drug offences, two counts of possessing a knife, seven counts of stealing, two counts of trespass and common assault.

Prosecutor Farook Anooza said Scott had an appalling criminal history "that started as a 19-year-old". By the time of his sentencing for arson he had already been before a magistrates court 26 times.

The court hear Scott had been squatting at the property on Brisbane St with his partner.

He had a history of homelessness since he began using drugs - including ice, speed and petrol sniffing - at age 13.

The 28-year-old had been educated to Year 8 level and worked at Red Rooster and on farms after he left school.

"He argued with his partner and it escalated - he poured petrol on the mattress and set fire to it," Mr Anooza said.

The court heard James's partner had been splashed by the petrol.

James, who was 26 at the time of the offences, spent 17 months in pre-sentence custody before being paroled this week on a 41/2-year head sentence. The sentence ultimately hinged on his intent: whether he sought to light his partner on fire, or had petrol on hand because he was petrol sniffing.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren said that after James had a fight with his partner and stormed out, he returned later with a bottle of petrol to sniff. The judge speculated James could have been returning to apologise.

Defence barrister Claire Hurley argued due to James's history as a petrol sniffer, it was not uncommon for him to carry petrol around and he should not be charged as though he intended to set his partner alight.

"He's lucky he didn't set the neighbourhood alight," Judge Horneman-Wren said.

The owner of the destroyed house was paid $90,000.

It is now on the market for $599,000.



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