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Published under Case Studies, Major Cases, News

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January 18, 2013

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Malicious Bushfires

Unfortunately bushfires are a common part of life in Australia. Most fires are contained quickly and only minor damage occurs. However as we have seen time and time again all over the country, these fires can have devastating consequences.

2013 has so far proved to be a difficult year for bushfires, with weather conditions such that there have been a number of total fire bans across NSW. More disturbing than the fires themselves, is the fact that many bushfires are man-made fires, either accidentally or maliciously lit. For example, a bushfire that threatened homes near Lithgow earlier this month was suspected of having been deliberately lit.

Starting a bushfire is a serious criminal offence, no doubt due to the potentially catastrophic consequences. In NSW, the maximum penalty for starting a bushfire is 14 years imprisonment.

There are also charges that can be laid against those people who accidentally start a bushfire through reckless behaviour. A man near Mudgee was charged after accidentally causing a bushfire when sparks from the angle grinder he was using started a fire that eventually burned through 140 hectares of land. He was charged with failing to comply with fire ban directions and setting fire to the property of another person. He will appear at Mudgee Local Court on 23 January.

These offences are serious and the actions of the officers in charging the man will perhaps serve as a timely reminder to those who may be tempted to ignore upcoming fire bans.

About the Author

John is partner of Armstrong Legal and head of the Criminal Law Division. The experience John possesses, being a high quality mix of defence and prosecution skills, together with his team at Armstrong Legal, mean you can be certain of accurate, dependable and practical advice on how your matter can dealt with.

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