Drunken joyride in stolen car ends in arson and jail

A MAN with no criminal history who got boozed at a birthday party, stole a car, went joyriding until it broke down and then torched it has been jailed.

Raymond James Bennett, 28, pleaded guilty on Monday in Ipswich District Court to unlawful use of a motor vehicle and arson.

The court heard the offences took place during the early hours of December 13, 2014 at Forest Hill.

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Kelso said Bennett stole the car from outside a house and along with a co-accused went joyriding across the Lockyer Valley.

She said the 2005 Mitsubishi Triton Ute ran out of petrol along Forest Hill-Laidley Rd before Bennett lit a napkin and placed it under a seat.

"The fire caused extensive damage to the interior of the vehicle and it was subsequently written off," she said. "The total damage to the vehicle was $15,700."

Ms Kelso said Bennett was identified walking along the road with his co-accused less than 1km from the scene.

She said Bennett was breath tested and registered a blood-alcohol reading of 0.234 but denied all knowledge of the fire.

"He was taken to the police station and the juvenile confessed to committing the offences," she said.

"Bennett did not participate in an interview due to his level of intoxication. His co-offender was dealt with under the Youth Justice Act."

Defence barrister Robert Carroll said it was an impulsive an immature act.

He told the court the crime deserved a jail sentence but argued on Bennett's behalf that no actual time should be served.

"This is a very serious offence committed by a person who before this incident has an unremarkable criminal history," he said.

"It was a very silly thing to do and was totally out of character."

Judge Greg Koppenol said a period of custody was warranted.

He sentenced Bennett to three years behind bars but ordered he be released on parole on May 28, 2016.


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