Former volunteer firefighter who lit Victorian bushfire sentenced to 14 years


Former volunteer firefighter who lit Victorian bushfire sentenced to 14 years

27 April 2012

published by www.heraldsun.com.au 


Australia — A FORMER volunteer firefighter who lit the Black Saturday bushfire that killed 10 people has been sentenced to 17 years and nine months in jail.

Brendan James Sokaluk, 42, was found guilty by a Victorian Supreme Court jury last month of arson causing death over the February 2009 fire at Churchill in Victoria’s east.

Sokaluk lit the fire in two locations near each other.

Today Justice Paul Coghlan ordered Sokaluk serve at least 14 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Sokaluk remained impassive as the sentence was passed.

Justice Coghlan said although he believed Sokaluk did not intend to kill anyone, he must have known the potential damage the fire could cause.

He said the pain of those who lost loved ones in the fire would be significantly increased knowing that the fire that caused their deaths was lit deliberately.

Justice Coghlan said the task of sentencing Sokaluk was very difficult, including the fact he has an autism spectrum disorder.

The fire, fanned by strong winds on a day of extreme heat, grew to devour 36,000 hectares, destroyed 156 homes and claimed 10 lives.

Sokaluk’s car broke down on Glendonald Road less than two kilometres from the pine plantation where the fire began.

At a pre-sentence hearing earlier this month, the families of Sokaluk’s victims told of their pain in victim impact statements.

Grant Jacobs, whose father Alan, mother Miros and brother Luke were killed, told the court the world was now a lonely place for him.

“I have been left without my mother, left without my father, and my brother, who was my best friend,” he told the court.


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