Bushfire laws may be changed: McGinty

Bushfire laws may be changed: McGinty

10 December 2007

published by news.smh.com.au

Australia — Western Australia’s bushfire laws are likely to be changed after a volunteer firefighter was acquitted of lighting all but one of seven fires.

Christopher William Robert Spooner, 21, of Glen Forrest, was tried in the Western Australian District Court on charges of wilfully lighting seven fires between September and November 2005.

Spooner was found guilty on Friday on one of the charges despite admitting lighting three of the fires.

Under the WA Bushfires Act it must be proved the fires were likely to injure people or damage property, and Spooner’s defence team argued he carefully lit the blazes to ensure they would do neither.

Following the verdict, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority called for flora and fauna to be included in the description of property.

WA Attorney-General Jim McGinty said he would consider the move.

“It’s something that we will need to look at with a sense of urgency to make sure that we can respond appropriately,” Mr McGinty told ABC Radio.

“This is the beginning of summer, this is a very, very bad message to send out to people that are would-be arsonists.”

Spooner will be sentenced in January.

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