DPP appeals Black Saturday arson sentence

DPP appeals Black Saturday arson sentence

30 May 2012

published by www.theaustralian.com.au

Australia — THE Crown has lodged an appeal against the leniency of the sentence given to a former volunteer firefighter who lit a Black Saturday bushfire that killed 10 people.

Victoria’s worst-ever killer Brendan James Sokaluk, 42, was jailed last month for 17 years and nine months with a non-parole period of 14 years, over the deadly February 2009 fire at Churchill in Gippsland, in eastern Victoria.

He was found guilty by a Victorian Supreme Court jury of arson causing death over the blaze that also destroyed 156 homes.

The Department of Public Prosecutions has lodged an appeal against Sokaluk’s sentence on the basis it was inadequate.

In sentencing Sokaluk, Justice Paul Coghlan said he did not intend to kill anyone with his fire.

He said his sentencing task was difficult as he had to take into account a number of factors, including Sokaluk’s autism spectrum disorder and his intellectual disability.

Temperatures reached 46.3 degrees on the day of the fire and conditions were made worse by strong winds and dry conditions.

Justice Coghlan said Sokaluk, who was a CFA volunteer in 1987 and 1988, would have known the potential devastation lighting a fire in those conditions would cause.

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