Young man jailed for burning down own pet shop

A YOUNG man has maintained his Beachmere pet shop burned down, killing a menagerie of birds and fish, after he left a mosquito coil smouldering in the shop.

But Judge Paul Smith found Matthew John Levy deliberately lit the fire which caused $72,000 worth of damage in late 2010.

During a contested sentence in Brisbane District Court on Friday, fire investigator Terrance Casey said it was highly unlikely a mosquito coil started the fire but "it's a possibility I can't eliminate".

Judge Smith said the CCTV evidence showed there was flickering in the storeroom before Levy exited and he must have known the room was on fire.

"He must have, in my judgment, been aware of the fire," he said. "I accept ... it was highly unlikely the fire developed from a mosquito coil.

"The circumstances are suspicious. I find the fire was deliberately lit."

Levy must serve at least nine months of a three-year jail sentence.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Dennis said the only conclusion that could be drawn from the footage was that the fire was deliberately lit.

"It's not conceivable that this accused left the store without knowledge of the fire inside," she said.

The Crown discontinued Levy's attempted fraud charge when he ended his trial this week by pleading guilty to arson.

Ms Dennis said Levy's "the apparent inability to service the debt" was a motive for his lighting the fire.

She said he had $8350 referred for debt collection, a credit card debt written off at $7496 and pet shop business accounts with small amounts of money in them.


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