Housing New Zealand tenant lit fire after bad day

By Imran Ali -
Wikitoria Munro lit a fire in this Housing NZ house in Raumanga after a night out drinking. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Wikitoria Munro lit a fire in this Housing NZ house in Raumanga after a night out drinking. Photo / Michael Cunningham

A Whangarei mother having a "bad day" started a fire in the kitchen of a state house she lived in using an artificial Christmas tree and papers.

Wikitoria Munro was sentenced in the Whangarei District Court this week to 10 months' home detention after she earlier pleaded guilty to arson.

Munro blamed a combination of factors for her offending, including anger, having a bad day, binge drinking, differences with neighbours she claimed poisoned her pet, and stress.

The court did not order reparation because property owner Housing New Zealand failed to submit a report on the cost of damage.

Judge Duncan Harvey described Munro's action as "stupid" and a spur-of-the-moment reaction after a night of drinking.

Photo / Michael Cunningham
Photo / Michael Cunningham

He said Munro had lived at the Campbell Pl house in Raumanga for eight months before she started selling household items and packing up to leave after difficulty with her neighbours.

On June 3, this year, she and a friend started drinking and, when the friend left, Munro's son was alerted to smoke in the house.

He switched off the stove at the wall and both went outside.

Munro returned to the kitchen and lit a fire using an artificial Christmas tree, which melted, charred and damaged the wall.

She initially claimed she discovered the fire after returning home but later admitted her guilt.

Judge Harvey said because of Munro's actions, a needy family still could not occupy the house because of smoke damage.

Her lawyer, Arthur Fairley, said the real consequence of her action was she would not get a Housing New Zealand house in future.

He said alcohol was a big problem for a mother with responsibility for two children.

Judge Harvey said a pre-sentence report recommended prison, however an appropriate home detention address was unavailable when the report was prepared.

A suitable address was available when she appeared in court this week and Munro would serve her sentence there.

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