A woman who was doused in petrol and set alight while she slept has made an extraordinary statement in court after her attacker pleaded guilty.
A woman who was doused in petrol and set alight while she slept has made an extraordinary statement in court after her attacker pleaded guilty.

Horror petrol attack victim’s court bombshell

A WOMAN who was doused in petrol and set on fire as she slept has extraordinarily told a court she does not want her attacker to spend any more time in jail.

Matt James Nolan, 30, today pleaded guilty to the horror attack in which he entered the woman's room, doused her in petrol as she slept and lit her on fire before walking out of the Bracken Ridge home.

The Brisbane District Court heard Nolan, who suffers from severe schizophrenia, had felt his mental health deteriorating in the weeks before the attack but was repeatedly turned away when he and his parents sought help from doctors.

Sigourney Leigh Coles.
Sigourney Leigh Coles.

Crown Prosecutor Toby Corsbie said housemates of the victim Sigourney Coles were alerted to the fire when they heard the woman's terrified screams.

They managed to extinguish the blaze which caused serious burns to Ms Coles' arms and face.

Mr Corsbie said the night before the attack, Nolan had attended a barbecue at the victim's home where he drank alcohol and stayed the night before leaving early the next morning.

He said Ms Coles had messaged Nolan after he left and he then returned two hours later at about 10.30am and walked into her room where he set her on fire without a word.

Nolan was charged with attempted murder over the July 2017 incident but today pleaded to a lesser charge of grievous bodily harm in the Brisbane District Court.

The court heard Nolan was suffering from a severe schizophrenic episode at the time of the attack.

But his case was not able to proceed through the mental health court because he had taken drugs which contributed to the deprivation of his capacity to know what he was doing was wrong.

Defence Barrister Joseph Briggs said the case was "desperately sad" for everyone involved.

The court heard in the lead up to the offence, Nolan had been prescribed a new treatment for his schizophrenia which he felt was making his illness worse but when he went to emergency departments to seek help, he was repeatedly turned away.

He self-medicated with methamphetamines which he believed would help alleviate symptoms of his illness including hallucinations.

"I do wish to emphasise this is a very unwell man," Mr Briggs said.

"He feels terrible about it (the attack), he's very regretful.

"He seems to feel incredible confusion about why he did what he did still."

Nolan was supported in court by more than a dozen friends and family including his parents.

Judge Vicki Loury has reserved her decision and will sentence Nolan next week.

Originally published as Horror petrol attack victim's court bombshell


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