Man jailed for setting own house on fire

JAIL TIME: The 66-year-old was not happy when told he had to leave his home.
JAIL TIME: The 66-year-old was not happy when told he had to leave his home.

WHEN a Pozieres man was told he had to move out of the rental property he had called home for almost a decade, he was so enraged he burnt it to the ground.

Vitak George Jesiolowski this week pleaded guilty in Warwick District Court to one count of arson.

The 66-year-old man set the house alight on January 27 last year, after being told he had six weeks to find a new home.

Crown Prosecutor Melanie Franklin said the house had been completely destroyed before the fire brigade arrived on scene.

"(Jesiolowski) resided at the property for nine years," she said.

"He knew the owners before and had worked for them, paying rent until 2012 when he was no longer able to work.

"He was allowed to remain although there was no formal agreement."

Ms Franklin said the owner told Jesiolowski he had to vacate as they needed the house to accommodate seasonal workers.

"He was told six weeks prior, on December 17, that he had to leave by the end of January," she said.

"He did not think it was fair, that he had done a lot of work but he had been living there rent-free.

"After the initial discussion, he seemed to take it in his stride."

When the fire was noticed by witnesses, there was concern Jesiolowski was still inside.

"It was then discovered his car was not there," Ms Franklin said.

"Police located him that afternoon and he admitted (starting the fire) to the police and other people."

Ms Franklin said Jesiolowski poured diesel throughout the house and lit the gas stove, leaving it to burn.

"He told police he was surprised how quickly it burnt down," she said.

"He also admitted he did not know whether the house was insured.

"It was insured for $150,000 but it cost more than that to rebuild.

"The maximum penalty for arson is life imprisonment."

Defence barrister Mark Johnson said it was out of character for his client.

"He said he had a 'mind snap'," Mr Johnson said.

Judge Greg Koppenol said Jesiolowski had clearly let his emotions get the better of him.

"It was not your house, you lived there rent-free," he said.

"There is no reason to act the way you did. On any view it was premeditated.

"I take into account your plea of guilty, all circumstances and submissions.

"You have served 164 days in custody but because it was in respect of this and another charge, it is technically not declarable."

Judge Koppenol sentenced Jesiolowski to three years jail but he will be released on parole on July 31.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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