22 February 2021

Man who set his home on fire found not guilty due to mental illness

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts

A man aged in his 20s was charged over the Mawson house fire. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A man who started a fire in his Canberra home while bushfires ravaged the country has been found not guilty due to the mental illness he was facing at the time.

The details of the case were outlined in an ACT Supreme Court judgement released on Friday.

The agreed statement of facts shows that on 3 January 2020, a man, whom Region Media has chosen not to name, was living in Mawson when he set fire to a bathroom at his home, as well as to a bin containing leaves and an electrical appliance, damaging property in the house.

READ ALSO Man charged over Mawson house fire

Later that month, he returned to the home after spending time in the mental health unit at Canberra Hospital and damaged more property.

When the matter came before the courts, the man, who is in his early 20s, pleaded not guilty by reasons of mental impairment to charges of arson and damaging property. He faced up to 15 years’ jail.

But Justice Michael Elkaim said he was satisfied that the man was “suffering from mental impairment so as to render him not criminally responsible” when committing the offences.

He said two forensic psychiatry reports found the defendant had a schizophrenic disorder.

Justice Elkaim accepted the pleas of not guilty by reasons of mental impairment and ordered the man to submit to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a mental health order.

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russianafroman8:51 pm 22 Feb 21

I hope this person receives the help they need

Capital Retro8:01 am 23 Feb 21

In the meantime, has he been released back in the community?

russianafroman1:42 pm 23 Feb 21

Capital Retro it would not surprise me

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