Nathan James Cormac walks from court after he was granted parole for arson.
Nathan James Cormac walks from court after he was granted parole for arson.

Arsonist walks free after destroying neighbour’s home

An arsonist who destroyed his former neighbour's Beerwah home was found by police "wailing" in his ute.

Maroochydore District Court heard an ongoing feud with neighbours either side of Nathan James Cormac's former Strawberry Rd address fuelled his desire to set two homes on fire in March 2016.

The 45-year-old was given parole on Thursday after the court heard he was suffering from depression and psychosis at the time which impacted his ability to reason.

Reports tendered to the court said his mental illness was self induced, triggered by an addiction to marijuana, and he was deemed to be of sound mind.

He was subsequently deemed fit for trial in 2018.

Nathan James Cormac faces court for setting a Beerwah home on fire in 2016.
Nathan James Cormac faces court for setting a Beerwah home on fire in 2016.

Crown prosecutor Will Slack said Cormac was doing repair work in his old neighbourhood when he grabbed a gas blow torch and a container of flammable liquid from his ute and took to 58 Strawberry Rd.

"The defendant splashed the liquid on the front of the house, on the car and then dripped a trail of it up the driveway," Mr Slack said.

"The complainant came outside the house and asked him what he was doing and the defendant told him to run."

Cormac lit the torch and ignited the liquid before the house was engulfed in flames.

Residents attempted to extinguish the fire to no avail before gathering a few of their belongings.

The house was destroyed.

Police and the fire Service attend the house fire in Beerwah. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Police and the fire Service attend the house fire in Beerwah. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily

Cormac then made his way to 52 Strawberry Rd.

He set the front garden on fire and attempted to gain access to the house before another neighbour intervened.

Police found Cormac "wailing and sobbing" in his ute which contained fire crackers and rockets.

"I've done a terrible thing," he told a neighbour.

Judge Anthony Rafter said Cormac previously had a dispute with one of the neighbours regarding a sprinkler.

The insurance payout for the house and carport at 58 Strawberry Rd was $250,000 and the contents of the house and car was valued at $19,650.

Cormac on Thursday pleaded guilty to arson, endangering a particular property by fire, and not having the authority to possess explosives.

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He spent 120 days in pre-sentence custody after his arrest in 2016.

Mr Slack said an appropriate sentence would be four to five years' jail to serve a further six months in custody.

Cormac had no relevant criminal history.

Defence barrister Deborah Holliday said her client spiralled after his relationship with a woman who had lived with him at Strawberry Rd ended.

"These offences occurred more than four years ago when the defendant was suffering from undiagnosed, significant mental illness which was a major contributing factor to the offending," Ms Holliday said.

"He is now medicated, he lives with his sister and is a contributing member of society, working full time."

The house at 58 Strawberry Rd was destroyed. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
The house at 58 Strawberry Rd was destroyed. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily

Ms Holliday said Cormac, who worked as a boat mechanic, would be vulnerable to abuse in prison and read from a forensic psychiatrist's report which said he would "struggle to fit in".

Letters from Cormac's current and former employers were tendered to the court describing him as a "courteous and polite" man who had grown more responsible and turned his life around.

Ms Holliday said an appropriate sentence was three years in jail with no further time spent in custody.

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Mr Rafter considered steps Cormac had taken to rehabilitate himself including psychological treatment and employment.

He acknowledged the 45-year-old's ability to reason was reduced at the time of the offence.

Cormac was sentenced to three years in jail with immediate release on parole.

He will be subject to drug and alcohol testing when required.

The convictions were recorded.


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