Fire lighter is spared time in jail

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
The fires were lit in bushland at College Grove and in the carport of a South Bunbury home.
Camera IconThe fires were lit in bushland at College Grove and in the carport of a South Bunbury home. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

A homeless man who says he “felt neglected” after showering at Bunbury Hospital without permission before walking into nearby bushland and starting a fire has avoided further jail time.

Torrin Shaun Reynolds, 44, sparked several fires after he flicked his cigarette butt into bushland at College Grove on November 10 last year.

Three days earlier, Reynolds was squatting in a carport at a South Bunbury home where he used turpentine and kerosene to set fire to a log.

The fire caused insects to rush out of the wood before Reynolds rolled the log into the backyard of the property and left it there.

Firefighters were called in to put out both blazes with Reynolds warned by a district court judge that “luckily” for him, the damage to property was contained and nobody was hurt.

“Damage to people – from fire – can be extremely serious,” Judge Bruce Goetze said during sentencing in Bunbury District Court on Friday.

“Burns are one of the worst things that anyone can suffer.

“Damage to property can destroy homes or in this case ... hospitals.”

A paranoid schizophrenic, Reynolds had not taken his medication for up to nine months prior to his offending, the court was told.

A psychiatric report showed Reynolds had a long history of mental health issues, including antisocial personality traits and low frustration tolerance.

Judge Goetze said Reynolds believed his situation, as a homeless pensioner, was beyond his control and described him as having outbursts of anger and living an itinerant lifestyle.

“When you have a psychiatric relapse, you display grandiose and bizarre diversions,” Judge Goetze said.

“You are hallucinatory and you can be irritable with your thoughts of harm to others. You have a history of violence when you’re unwell or intoxicated.”

In sentencing Reynolds, Judge Goetze said he had shown remorse and accepted responsibility for his offending.

He also said since being in custody Reynolds had been back on his medication, got “mentally back on track” and had plans in place with AccordWest’s reintegration program.

While State prosecutors argued that an immediate jail term was the only appropriate outcome, Judge Goetze said conditionally suspending a prison sentence would allow Reynolds to continue with the positive steps he had taken.

Reynolds was sentenced to 24 months jail, suspended for 18 months with conditions including urinalyses, anti-psychotic medication and a program for cognitive behaviour.

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