Four year sentence for 'pyromaniac' lit six bushfires
A CONVICTED arsonist who lit six fires in the Lockyer Valley, one of which needed 21 fire crews to stop, has been jailed.
Benjamin Luke Kazda, 28, pleaded guilty in the Ipswich District Court to six counts of endangering properties by fire.
Between September 14 and October 10 last year Kazda, the court heard, lit fires in Rockside, Mt Berryman and Blenheim, all between Laidley and Gatton.
He lit grass on the side of roads, some as close as 10m from nearby structures. The fires burnt a total of 200 hectares in the area.
One fire, lit on October 2, took 21 fire crews to control and would have destroyed at least one house had it not been stopped. Another took crews 21 hours to control.
The court heard Kazda was jailed for two years in 2006 for igniting curtains in his mother's home, which gutted the house.
The court was read a victim impact statement from a 71-year-old man whose property was ravaged by the fires. The statement said the fire had burnt through a stone fruit orchard, destroyed almost all of his cattle grazing land and come within metres of his home, shed and 12 four-wheel-motorbikes he rented as recreational vehicles around his property.
In the month-long period when Kazda was setting fires, there was a complete fire ban, a ban he told police he was aware of, when he was arrested.
Kazda was observed several times driving his car in the area of the fires soon after they were lit.
On October 2, Kazda pulled over to another motorist who was watching the fire and told him "it's all under control". The concerned witness took down Kazda's number plate.
When he was questioned by police, Kazda denied any involvement with the fires but admitted to being the only driver of the car seen near the fires. He gave police an alibi which was found to be false.
He was arrested on October 22, 2012, and has remained behind bars since.
A psychological report tendered to the court said while Kazda had never been formally diagnosed with pyromania, he showed signs of it. It stated he had been obsessed with fire from a young age and would remain a risk of re-offending for a number of years.
Judge Greg Koppenol said Kazda had put homes and lives at huge risk through his actions.
"Your actions were reckless and dangerous," he said.
"Had it not been for the extremely professional and competent intervention by the Queensland Fire Service and Queensland Police Service … these fires could have had catastrophic and perhaps fatal consequences."
He was sentenced to four years jail, with the 13 months already spent in prison declared time served. He will be eligible to apply for parole in February next year.