A Shepparton man who lit a fire at a petrol station and told a passer-by it was “about to go kaboom” has received a jail term at the Shepparton Magistrates’ Court.

Joel Giles, 40, pleaded guilty to arson and reckless conduct endangering serious injury after he set fire to a piece of cardboard and placed it at the base of a bowser at Caltex Shepparton in Wyndham St around 11 pm on April 10, 2020.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Sarah Halnon told the court the man then used a cigarette lighter to further ignite the fire, using a “tube object” — believed to be a can of deodorant — to fuel the flames.

The court heard a witness talked with Giles at the corner of Fryers St and Wyndham St soon after, where Giles pointed to the petrol station and visible flames. The witness called 000 and said Giles had stated he wanted to blow it up, adding he said it was “about to go kaboom”.

CFA crews attended the fire and extinguished it, while police located the man about 11.20 pm. Forensics located two pieces of burnt cardboard the next day and determined the blaze was deliberately lit, while two lighters and an empty deodorant can were found when police arrested and searched Giles soon after.

Defence solicitor Luke Slater, who acknowledged it was “an unusual matter”, conceded Giles was “not thinking rationally” at the time of offending due to drug use. He said Giles planned to leave Shepparton having cited it as a problematic city due to its “ease to access methamphetamine”.

Mr Slater argued the damage was “fortunately somewhat cosmetic”, adding Giles was pleading guilty at an early stage of proceedings and did not have a significant criminal record.

Magistrate David Faram sentenced Giles to 25 days in prison — time already served — describing it as “an unusual outcome in all of the circumstances”.

He said the offending was “nearly inexplicable”, adding it was “only explicable when you take into account the drug use”.

Extracted in full from: Shepparton man sentenced for service station arson (riverineherald.com.au)

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