When Clifford Paikea left the house after a drunken argument with his partner, she and his daughter became so scared they also left the property in fear of what may happen if he returned.
He did return, but not until the next day. Paikea poured accelerant in the house — from the kitchen and through the passageway to the front door inside the house — then lit that trail.
The fire at Whakapara north of Whangārei in March 2019 not only completely burnt down the house, but Paikea suffered serious burns to his legs and right forearm because he had stood too close as he lit the trail.
He then left the property and drove to Whangārei Hospital and was then airlifted to Middlemore Hospital in Auckland where he spent about three weeks.
Paikea was found guilty on one charge of arson by a jury in the Whangārei District Court and was last Thursday
sentenced to three years and two months' jail.
Judge Duncan Harvey said Paikea, his daughter, mother-in-law and partner all lost belongings in the fire, the house owner was left about $30,000 out of pocket, and the insurance company lost $230,000.
"Your actions amounted to retribution. You were obviously having a drunkard and a very loud argument with your partner. She was so concerned she went and woke your daughter up because apparently, she normally was able to calm you down.
"On this occasion, she was unsuccessful and although you left the property, they were frightened what might happen if you came back and for that reason, they decided to go.
"I have absolutely no doubt that this offending was premeditated and I think I can properly describe it as serious family violence. Despite what you've done to them, they still love you," he said.
Judge Harvey said there did not appear to have been a financial motive.
"I have no doubt that when you went back, you did have the intention of lighting a fire and the way you poured the petrol gave the clear intention you intended to destroy everything.
It's clear to me from the evidence that when you do get wound up, your partner is fearful of you."
He said Paikea told the pre-sentence report writer that in the two weeks leading up to the fire, he was sleeping for no more than two hours a day.
Paikea may have been under the influence of both alcohol and drugs when he lit the fire, the judge said.
He said references showed he was able to be a contributing member to our community, but his drug and alcohol use was holding him back.
Judge Harvey did not order reparation because Paikea was not in a position to pay.