Arsonist is Victoria's worst killer

Brendan James Sokaluk is Victoria's worst ever killer. Photo / Supplied
Brendan James Sokaluk is Victoria's worst ever killer. Photo / Supplied

A Victorian man has been found guilty of starting a Black Saturday bushfire that killed 10 people.

Brendan James Sokaluk, 42, was convicted by a Victorian Supreme Court jury on all 10 counts of arson causing death.

The verdict means Sokaluk is Victoria's worst ever killer.

The 36,000-hectare fire at Churchill in Victoria's east on February 7, 2009, destroyed 156 homes.

Sokaluk did not react as the verdict was delivered yesterday, on the fifth day of the jury's deliberations.

He lit the fire at two points and then told lies to cover his tracks, the court heard during his month-long trial.

Sokaluk admitted to police he started the fire but said it happened accidentally when ash dropped out his car window.

Sokaluk's Holden sedan broke down on the road near where the fire started.

He told one person he was on his way to a wedding, while he told others he was visiting a friend in the area.

In her closing address, his barrister, Jane Dixon SC, said Sokaluk, who has autism, was a simple man and a misfit.

She said her client was not capable of telling a web of lies to police.

Dixon told jurors Sokaluk's police record of interview, in which he was helpful, co-operative and straightforward with police, was the most important piece of evidence in the trial.

"This was no calculated, contrived account," she said.

"This was no contrived web of lies and deceit."

Outside court, Dixon said it was likely there would be an appeal.

Sokaluk was remanded in custody until a pre-sentence hearing on a date to be fixed.

- AAP

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