Spurned ex-partner admits to arson

By Sandra Conchie of the Bay of Plenty Times -
File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A former lover has admitted setting fire to his ex-partner's house and torching her car after failing to win her back.

Painter Norman Lawrence Gregory, 39, from Whakamarama, pleaded guilty to a charge of arson in Tauranga District Court yesterday - a charge which attracts a sentence of up to 14 years' jail.

The police summary of facts reveals Gregory and the victim had been in a de facto relationship for about a year until it ended about July.

In August, Gregory attempted to rekindle the relationship and began texting his ex-partner in an attempt to win her back, despite her having a new partner.

On August 21, the victim refused to become involved with him and an angry Gregory sent a threatening text and then apologised for sending it.

Later that night, after the victim again refused his pleas, Gregory sent a text to the victim which stated "il kill him, do you want that? On ur conscience for the rest of ur life; I mean this sincerely."

The victim asked Gregory to leave her alone.

About 20 minutes later, Gregory went to the victim's home in Ohauiti and tapped on her window. When she did not respond, he sent her two texts, the first stated, "babe, im outside urs; please talk to me" and the second read, "please babe".

Gregory then went to the front of the property and slashed the two rear tyres of her Nissan with a knife before returning home to get a container of petrol, some newspaper and a lighter.

He then returned to her property, stood underneath her bedroom window, lit a scrunched-up piece of newspaper and placed it against the house - which caused minor smoke damage to the side of the building.

Gregory then walked to the front of the property, placed another piece of newspaper under the victim's motor vehicle, poured petrol over the top of the vehicle, lit the paper and walked away.

The petrol caught fire and the resulting blaze caused a large amount of damage on the bonnet, windscreen and driver's side doors of the victim's vehicle.

Gregory told police he was hurt the relationship had ended and had reacted badly.

He said he knew what he had done was wrong and that someone could have been hurt or killed.

Reparation of $2500 is sought by the victim's insurance company and the victim is also seeking $500 reparation for the insurance excess.

Gregory's lawyer Tony Balme told Judge Thomas Ingram that his client accepted the reparation figure.

Judge Ingram agreed to bail Gregory and called for community detention and home detention reports but said he was not making any promises as to the sentencing outcome on December 18.

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