Arsonist burnt house down ‘for his family’

A MAN who was paid $2000 to burn down a Bowen house down did it "for his family" so he could afford to provide for them, a court has heard.

Christopher Leslie Solomon, 31, will spend more than a year behind bars after pleading guilty to one charge of arson when he faced Bowen District Court this week.

The court heard Solomon was paid by a man, whose case is still before the courts, to burn down the house of his ex-partner's new lover.

Crown prosecutor Monique Sheppard said Solomon had been scouting out the victim's Herbert St house for a number of days prior to the blaze.

The court heard Solomon entered the residence about 1.50am on September 30, 2018, with a neighbour hearing the sounds of breaking glass.

Judge Gregory Lynham said Solomon's actions were "foolish and ill-conceived", as he was observed standing at the bottom of the stairs to the house, which was by then "fully alight", before running to a nearby yard, retrieving his car and driving off.

The court heard Solomon sustained burns during the arson, presenting himself to Bowen Hospital about 2.50pm with wounds to his hands, arms and face.

He subsequently returned to Bowen Hospital twice for treatment of his burns in the three months after the fire.

Ms Sheppard said Solomon's crime was "motivated by money" and "clearly premeditated".

Solomon contacted the co-accused man after the arson for the $2000 he was promised for the attack and was paid in two $1000 instalments, she said.

Defence lawyer Frank Richards said the father-of-three was motivated to do the attack out of "need not greed".

He said Solomon's education was limited to a Year 6 level, and he had been diagnosed with multiple mental health issues, however, had maintained regular employment since the age of 14.

Mr Richards said Solomon was "not the mastermind of the operation" and gained "very little" from the offence.

"His family is struggling financially and I am told until recently his partner, and the three children in their care, were living on the outskirts of Bowen in a caravan," Mr Richards said.

"The money would go to supporting the household and the children, and the modest payment reflects the actions were for his family and their needs, not greed."

During sentencing, Judge Lynham acknowledged Solomon's actions were motivated by money.

"You gained little from this and your action was clearly for financial gain," he said.

"The fact you got burnt might demonstrate it was poorly carried out, although it had the desired effect."

Solomon was sentenced to three years and ten months' jail, suspended after 15 months, with parole set for May 24, 2021.

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