The Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 have left a long shadow across Victoria, Australia.
A 53 year old woman lit 14 fires around the Tatura and Mooroopna areas between February 2014 and January 2015. Mercifully each was reasonably small but required attendances from the all-volunteer Tatura and Mooroopna fire brigades. The defendant was charged with intentionally or recklessly causing a bushfire. The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) §201A(1) provides that
A person who—
(a) intentionally or recklessly causes a fire; and
(b) is reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on property belonging to another—
is guilty of an offence and liable to level 4 imprisonment (15 years maximum).
The defendant was dealt with in the County Court of Victoria. Judge Carmody noted that some of the offences were promoted by a quarrel with a farm managers son. His Honour considered that her mental impairment (mild intellectual disability and an IQ of 67) reduced her moral culpability. However, he alos noted that dealing with the fires had placed additional pressures on volunteer emergency responders. He sentenced the defendant to 88 days imprisonment, a four year community corrections order and 300 hours of volunteer work.
Director of Public Prosecutions v Thumpston (2018), Tatura Guardian, 17 April 2018, p.7