Man jailed for lighting house fire

By Alison King

A Rotorua man has been sentenced to 18 months jail for trying to burn down his partner's house.

Watiotetemepara Pou, 39, lit a rubbish bag under the piles of the house when he was locked out and his belongings left outside, Rotorua District Court heard yesterday. But smoke was smelled from inside and the fire burned itself out.

He admitted attempted arson as well as a breach of a protection order.

Judge John MacDonald said Pou had been at community work on September 25 and on his return had gone to a neighbouring property where he had had some drinks.

"Four hours later, the complainant turned up with three children and yelled at you," Judge MacDonald said.

"Your response was to yell back and follow her. She had time to put your belongings outside and locked the house and you reacted badly to that."

The court heard Pou kicked through an external door and then took a full rubbish bag and placed it under the house, which was on piles 50cm off the ground.

He had lit it using a lighter.

"Precisely what your intentions were are unclear. I wonder if it was to flush the victim out," Judge MacDonald said.

"Either way you lit the fire in circumstances when you knew the victim and her three children were still inside. Fortunately the fire burned itself out."

He said the building paper was burnt and there was some scorching. The woman had smelled smoke and called police.

This was Pou's sixth protection order breach.

Pou's lawyer, Harry Edward, said his client had a long history with some serious drug and alcohol issues.

Pou was also sentenced to nine months jail for breaching the protection order, to be served concurrently.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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