Pensioner in court after setting neighbour’s letterbox alight

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
John William Cunningham was sentenced in Bunbury Magistrates Court on Monday.
Camera IconJohn William Cunningham was sentenced in Bunbury Magistrates Court on Monday. Credit: South Western Times

A 73-year-old Withers man who set fire to his neighbour’s letterbox over a long-standing dispute has avoided a fine.

John William Cunningham was charged with criminal damage by fire, but that was downgraded by police during his appearance in Bunbury Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Cunningham pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of criminal damage over the incident on February 6.

The court was told Cunningham set fire to some junk mail before putting it in his neighbour’s letterbox sometime between 9.30am and 10.45am.

Firefighters were called to put out the blaze at the Davenport Way unit.

Defence lawyer Ntuthuko Mcingolwane said Cunningham had become frustrated over the ongoing dispute with his neighbour and acted out.

Mr Mcingolwane said Cunningham was schizophrenic and at the time of the incident was not complying with his mental health regime.

He said since the incident, Cunningham had been taking his medication, had spent time in a psychiatric unit and would continue to be monitored in the community.

Taking into account that Cunningham was on a disability pension, Magistrate Belinda Coleman fined him $400, but suspended the sentence for 12 months.

Magistrate Coleman warned Cunningham to stay out of trouble and stay on his medication.

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