Late-night arsonist spared prison

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FIRE STARTERS: Daniel Cheatley (left) and Irimana Bell appear in Napier District Court for sentencing on arson charges. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
FIRE STARTERS: Daniel Cheatley (left) and Irimana Bell appear in Napier District Court for sentencing on arson charges. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

"Every time somebody starts a fire someone else has to come and put it out," a judge told two late-night arsonists when they appeared at Napier District Court for sentencing yesterday.

Daniel Joshua Cheatley, 26, and Irimana Bell, 23, stood side by side in the dock before Judge Geoff Rea, who told them young people could do stupid things, but it became criminal when they did these things more than once.

Last month, after less than an hour of deliberating, a jury found the pair guilty of two charges each of arson, which related to a fire lit at the back of Bloodline Tattoo and another at the rear of the Brazen Head Bar, which were just two in a spree of suspicious fires lit during the same period.

Both fires caused damage to rubbish bins and walls adjacent to the bins but were extinguished before more serious damage could be caused.

Damage to the tattoo parlour was valued at $300 and the Brazen Head Bar at $120.

Police had examined CCTV footage from street cameras and businesses in the area, which had captured the pair, one scootering around the streets and the other walking.

Neither man gave evidence in the trial, but recordings of police interviews were played to the jury.

At the same trial, the men were found not guilty of two other charges relating to fires lit behind backpacker's lodge Archies Bunker and the County Hotel.

The pair had been jointly charged but their sentencing was handled separately.

Cheatley's lawyer, Alan Cressey, told the judge his client was unemployed but had a secure bail address in Whanganui, where he could live with his father.

Judge Rea told Cheatley the starting point for his offending was a prison term but in this case he was prepared to give him a sentence of six months' home detention.

Cheatley, whose mother sat in the public gallery, was also ordered to pay reparation of half the damage costs ($210) by December 31.

A condition of his bail was not to possess or consume alcohol or illicit drugs.

Cheatley's co-offender, Irimana Bell, was not sentencedyesterday due to issues with his bail address and breaching his current bail conditions. He was stood down until next month.

Bell's lawyer, Leo Lafferty, told the judge his client had since moved to Auckland where he was living with his aunt.

He said Bell saw things in a "straightforward manner" without any respect for the peripheral.

The judge said the starting point for Bell was also a term of imprisonment and he would put his transgressions down to "youthful responsibility" only once.

Bell was remanded on bail to April 15.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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