Cattle man gets jail time for his desperate measure

MATTHEW Nicholas Landers figured the only way he could replenish his family's means was to set his work truck on fire.

A Rockhampton court last week heard how the Longreach man, a seasoned cattle musterer, kangaroo hunter and his family's sole income earner, fell on tough times during the peak of last year's drought and made a desperate attempt to fill the family kitty.

Landers, 30, pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court to one charge of arson and one charge of fraud after he reported his 2002 Toyota utility missing in June last year.

Crown Prosecutor Susan Hedge said Landers, who was 29 at the time, reported his truck stolen around June 17.

A month passed before police found Landers' charred truck in scrub near Barcaldine.

When police notified Landers in person they had found his truck, they suspected he had devised a plan to have his truck destroyed.

Their suspicions were confirmed when Landers admitted he drove the truck to Barcaldine, set it alight and had a friend pick him up and drive him home.

He admitted to his misdemeanour after denying his involvement twice to the police.

The court heard Landers then filed an insurance claim of $23,150 on his missing truck.

When admitting his wrongdoing to the police and his partner - who wasn't aware of the plot - Landers paid the full sum back to the insurance company within 10 days.

It was a tough financial situation for Landers and his wife, who at the time was out of work because she was pregnant.

Defence lawyer Peter Goodwin said when work became scarce because of the 2013 drought; his client resorted to a plan that would financially stabilise his family until work became available.

Mr Goodwin said the cattle season this year was a lot steadier than the previous one and Landers had excellent references.

He had no criminal history.

Judge Paul Smith sentenced Landers to 12 months imprisonment. He will be released on parole in two months time.

Topics:  longreach rockhampton district court

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