Arsonist wanted to ‘ride a firetruck’

Arsonist wanted to ‘ride a firetruck’

2 October 2009

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Australia — A volunteer firefighter who lit three bushfires and made a swag of hoax triple-0 calls yearned to be on the back of a firetruck, a court has been told.

Jarred William Brewer, 20, sat red-faced and crying in the dock during his pre-sentence hearing in Melbourne yesterday.

The Melbourne County Court heard the junior Country Fire Authority firefighter lit three bushfires north of Melbourne and made 16 hoax emergency calls between November 2008 and January this year.

Brewer called 000 to report fictitious fires and motor accidents, and hid his identity by removing the SIM card in his mobile phone.

Forensic psychologist Jeffrey Cummins gave evidence that Brewer was of low intelligence and his crimes were a way to big-note himself and boost his self-esteem.

Defence lawyer Sharon Lacy said her client did not commit his crimes out of malice.

She said he simply wanted to be called out by the CFA and had never attended a bushfire.

“Mr Brewer was hoping to be involved in this team of firefighters that got to put out the fire or at least be on a truck somewhere that attended.”

Brewer, of Darraweit Guim, north of Melbourne, pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally causing a bushfire and 16 of improperly using emergency call services.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Gavin Silbert, SC, said Brewer lit two fires at Clonbinane and another at Wallan, north of Melbourne.

He would then make calls to the CFA reporting them, giving a false name and number.

Investigators later matched his fingerprints to ignition items left at one of the scenes.

Receipt records from the local Safeway store, where Brewer bought flammable items, also matched items found at another fire scene.

When police searched his home they found a CFA training manual, sparklers and pyrotechnic material.

Dr Cummins said Brewer had a chronic adjustment disorder in which he suffered anxiety and depression and did not see himself as an arsonist.

He also had trouble understanding the seriousness of his crimes, partly because of his low IQ and mental health problems.

Brewer will be sentenced at a date to be fixed.

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