Arsonist watches shed burn

PETER Mark Hansen was driven by revenge when he broke into a Rockhampton woman’s shed and set fire to a lounge chair.

But before fleeing he watched and waited until the building was burning fiercely.

Close by the shed, the woman slept inside her rental unit unaware of the blaze that could have destroyed her home – and life too.

She was woken at 11.30pm by a neighbour who saw the fire, allowing her to grab her dog and run to safety.

Hansen, 30, told police he had gone to the Nicholson Street unit on March 29, 2009, looking to fight the woman’s son, who he had allegedly assaulted him days earlier.

When he realised he wasn’t home he set fire to the shed instead.

Yesterday Hansen, who has been on remand at the Capricornia Correctional Centre since his arrest just hours after the attack, pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court to arson.

He was sentenced to three years behind bars, but will be released on parole on March 25.

Fire and Rescue Service crews were called to put out the blaze at the time, but not before it had destroyed all the contents of the shed, worth about $1000.

A lounge chair, table set, bicycle, radio, paintings and wardrobe were lost.

Legal officer Majella La Praik said the fire also caused significant damage to the building, which would cost $40,000 to be demolished and rebuilt.

But because the fire being the sole cause of the damage is now being disputed, a judge yesterday could not order restitution for it.

“The fire was lit out of revenge and malicious,” Ms La Praik said.

“It was a large fire and there was a high risk, considering she (the occupant) was asleep and it could have travelled to her flat.”

Hansen, a fisherman, was found outside a nearby pub in an intoxicated state.

He immediately told officers he was responsible, but said he only wanted to destroy the property, not put lives at risk.

He said he had been assaulted a few days before by the woman’s son, who he assumed lived at the unit too.

Defence barrister Tom Polley said Hansen was very remorseful for his actions and never intended to endanger anyone’s life.

Mr Polley said Hansen was also hopeful of going back to work as a fisherman as soon as he was allowed out of prison.

This attack wasn’t the first time Hansen has been in trouble with the law, however.

In 2008 he was convicted of assault, for throwing a woman down stairs and stabbing her in the arm.

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