Burnett man smashes hire car, lights illegal fire during drought
A SOUTH Burnett man has racked up thousands of dollars in debt after taking his rage out on a hire car, stealing petrol, and sparking up a campfire in the midst of a local fire ban, a court heard.
Jason James Pershouse pleaded guilty to three charges before Kingaroy Magistrates Court, including unauthorised dealing with shop goods, contravening a local fire ban, and wilful damage.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Pepe Gangemi said police were called on November 16 last year after Pershouse filled his car with $71 worth of unleaded fuel from Liberty Service Station at Kingaroy, then proceeded to drive away without paying.
On November 29, 2019, Sergeant Gangemi said Pershouse and a co-offender were camping in a South Burnett Regional Council area, owned by the co-offender‘s father.
“Dense scrub, very dry from drought. Numerous fires were burning out of control across the east coast of Australia, in particular in the local South Burnett council area,” sergeant Gangemi said.
Despite a total fire ban in the area, they decided to light a fire to cook some food - an act which carries a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment.
Sergeant Gangemi said while camping, an argument broke out between the two, resulting in the defendant causing $7770.48 worth of damage to a car the co-offender had hired from Ken Mills Toyota.
“He kicked and punched the roof and windows, causing them to smash. Jumped onto the roof, dented the roof,” sergeant Gangemi said.
Pershouse was represented by defence lawyer Jay Rose, who said the co-offender was the one who leased the car.
“There was a background of working and drinking to excess at the point in time of those offences,” Ms Rose said.
“He was brought up here for work as a concrete worker, but unfortunately the work dried up when he got here, and that led to some disputes with his partner.”
Magistrate Andrew Sinclair ordered Pershouse to pay $71 compensation to Liberty Service Station in Kingaroy and $7770.48 to Ken Mills Toyota.
For contravening the fire ban, he was convicted and fined $500.
“That fine might have been higher but for the fact that it didn’t get away from you, and that the compensation which you’re required to pay is so high,” Magistrate Sinclair said.
“We’re back at that time of year where an out of control bushfire in Queensland at the moment is causing the evacuation of Fraser Island, so the danger of not observing fire bans should be very obvious.”
All the fines were referred to SPER and convictions are recorded.