Serial firebug pleads guilty to lighting fires on Bribie
A SERIAL firebug was lucky to escape serious jail time after he pleaded guilty to lighting five fires in bushland on Bribie Island.
Jason James Hodder, 36, of Clermont in Central Queensland, was staying on the island at his in-laws when he lit five medium-sized fires in bushland across from where he was staying between November 13, and December 8, 2012.
The Brisbane District Court heard on Wednesday Hodder had a similar conviction in 2010, for lighting an unauthorised fire the previous year.
Crown Prosecutor Allan Morrison told the court Hodder initially denied starting the fires despite CCTV footage at his in-law's place capturing him walking into bushland shortly before all five fires were ignited.
"He told police that he was going to feed the birds and was just going for a walk," he said.
"All the fires were lit in very close proximity to urban areas.
"All of the offences were committed when there was a fire ban in place in the area."
Mr Morrison told the court the fires cost the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service more than $3000 in call-out fees and fightfighters spent more than five hours in total battling the fires.
"When firefighters attended the five separate fires they immediately thought they were suspicious," he said.
"There was not apparent reason as to why they would have started apart from someone lighting them."
Hodder's barrister Harry Fong told the court his client had a dysfunctional upbringing and he only lit the fires as coping mechanism for the stresses in his life at the time.
"His wife had been admitted to hospital in Brisbane after several blood clots were located on her lungs," he said.
"There was medical evidence the offences occurred due to significant stresses surrounding his wife's illness."
Judge Hugh Botting did not buy into argument and sentenced Hodder to 18 months in jail.
"We all experience stresses, but that is called life," he said.
"Most people do not go out and light fires though.
"It is important that I deter you, and other, from committing these types of offences."
Hodder was granted immediate parole after the judge took into account 64 days he already served in custody after his arrest on December 28, 2012 and before being released on bail on March 1, 2012.