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Man set fire to cars in revenge attack against estranged wife

A man who admitted setting fire to two cars in a misguided attempt to exact revenge on his estranged wife was given a suspended prison sentence.

Justice Iris pleaded guilty to causing wilful damage in the 2019 incident, which caused more than $6,000 in damage to one car while a second vehicle was declared a write-off.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said in a judgment dated May 25 that the offence should carry a period of incarceration – but the unique circumstances that led to the arson had to be considered.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “The accused was the recent victim of a burgled home shortly prior to his commission of the offence.

“Searching for his medication, he sought to cool his passion, which was aggravated by his mental disorder.

“However, he was unable to retrieve his medication and this court accepted, without any controversy raised by the Crown, that it was entirely plausible that his medication had been maliciously moved during the course of the burglary.

“These unique factors constituted a good reason for suspending his sentence in my judgment.”

She sentenced Iris to nine months behind bars, but suspended that sentence for two years, and put in place a two-year period of probation.

The court heard that on June 27, 2019, Rhonda Jennings parked her car at the home of Stuart Hollis, whose own car was parked near by.

At about 3am the next morning, Mr Hollis discovered that his car – which was parked a few feet from two gas cylinders – was “engulfed in flames”.

Because of the proximity of the fire to the cylinders, Mr Hollis ran into his house to get his family away from the area.

Ms Jennings also came outside to discover her car was also on fire.

Several people came to put out the fires, then Ms Jennings noticed a white rag that smelled strongly of gasoline on the right side of her car windshield.

A similar rag was also found attached to Mr Hollis’s car.

Damage to Ms Jennings’s car was estimated at $6,101, while Mr Hollis’s car was a write -off.

Hours after the fires were discovered, at about 10.40am, Iris turned himself in to police and in an interview confessed that he had been the one to set the vehicles on fire.

He later pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to charges of causing wilful damage.

The court heard that Iris was on medication to address mental health issues but had been unable to find his medication after his home had been burgled.

At the time of the offences, he believed that his then-estranged wife had been responsible for the burglary. He set fire to the cars, which were parked by the home of his wife’s friend – in an attempt at retaliation.

Both defence counsel and the Crown agreed that a suspended sentence of three to nine months behind bars would be appropriate, along with a two-year period of probation.

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