Irate CFA veteran turned to arson

William Brighton, 69, drank beer and lit fires, court heard.
William Brighton, 69, drank beer and lit fires, court heard.

A VETERAN volunteer firefighter who turned firebug has escaped conviction over his arson spree.

Wodonga Magistrate’s Court heard yesterday that William Brighton, 69, took a beer, his dog and a firelighter for a walk on a windy afternoon in Dartmouth last year, lighting up the roadside verges on his stroll.

When police came across the 15-year CFA volunteer, he was still drinking a beer and watching the flames spread into a paddock behind the Dartmouth caravan park.

The police prosecutor told the court Brighton had been drinking since lunchtime and lit the fires to “just get the bloody fire brigade moving”.

Yesterday magistrate John Murphy placed the Crawford Court resident on a good behaviour bond following a series of references attesting to Brighton’s community standing.

There was no conviction recorded on the charge of lighting a fire during a fire danger period.

The police prosecutor had earlier told the court that Brighton, who normally drank light beer, had started on some leftover “heavies” after gardening in the morning.

“The accused left the property about 5.50pm and while walking his dog along the Dartmouth Road used a firelighter that he had in his pocket to light a number of fires in the grass along the Dartmouth Road on the western side,” the prosecutor told the court.

“At the time of lighting the fire he was still drinking a beer.

“He was then observed walking beside the fire and up a grassy verge at the rear of the caravan park where he stood watching the fire and drinking beer with his other hand in his pocket.

“The fire had been spread along the embankment by very gusty winds and was beginning to burn into a paddock at the rear of the caravan park.

“The accused gave the reason for lighting the fire as ‘they need to do something, just get the bloody fire brigade moving’.”

The court heard there was minimal damage and no one was injured in the fire.