A Hawke's Bay couple's disputes in a break-up following 20 years together ended in a shower of sparks as Raymond John Braam torched his ex-partner's shipping container of belongings.
The pyromaniacal dissolution was revealed in Napier District Court on Friday as 50-year-old Braam, of Hastings, was sentenced to eight and a half months' home detention and ordered to pay $4200 in reparation.
A summary said that in August last year a protection order was put in place to protect Braam's former partner, the mother of his daughter.
With their home having been sold, his partner bought a 40ft shipping container which was placed on a friend's orchard property on the outskirts of Hastings to store her belongings, including possessions inherited from her mother who had died earlier in the year.
Braam was allowed to store some property in and around the container.
On October 31, after an argument between the pair, he sent her a threatening message.
The woman drove to the storage unit and found Braam's car damaged from an apparent attempt to bust open the container, and other items smashed around and in the container where Braam sat on sofa, angry and arguing.
She drove off as Braam threw a terracotta pot which hit her car, but despite the behaviour she did not believe a text message when received soon afterwards saying: "Ur container burning."
She blocked his messages, but at 6.17pm received a message from the orchard owner telling her the container was on fire.
"When she saw it burning, she sat in her car and cried, knowing that there was nothing she could do and nothing left to save," the summary said.
Police said Braam later declined to comment, but in court he had admitted the offence by pleading guilty to a charge of arson.
Defence counsel Alan Cressey highlighted the man's remorse, a contribution already of $800 to reparation, preparedness to make full but over-time payment for the estimated $10,000 worth of damage, and the nine weeks in custody and 22 weeks on electronically-monitored bail while on remand among reasons for a minimal sentence.
Judge Bridget Mackintosh said that since forecasting a sentence of two years seven months at a sentencing indication hearing, she had received other information relating to Braam's drug and alcohol problems and depression, and she believed in his potential to recover if he followed the conditions of his eventual home detention sentence.
The conditions, including counselling and attending set programmes, will be in place for a further six months after the end of the confinement.
While Braam told the court he was happy to start making amends as soon as possible, the Judge declined to make a reparation order for the full damage estimate, accepting lawyer Cressey's assertion that would be unrealistic for a man without a job to be paying a further $9200 at $10 a week.