A MARRIED couple involved in an arson attack on their own car were in dire financial trouble at the time, a court has heard.
Baranduda residents Chris and Danielle Lewis had been struggling to pay the $1800 monthly debt off the Ford Territory with only one income.
Arrangements were made for the vehicle to be driven away and torched, and the pair later declared bankruptcy anyway.
Investigators appeared to be sceptical of claims made by Mr Lewis after the incident.
The car had been parked at the Blazing Stump about 7.30pm on December 7 last year.
The couple claimed to have been eating dinner inside when the car was stolen.
It was set alight on the side of the Murray Valley Highway at Kergunyah about 10pm.
The vehicle had been driven erratically and smashed in a bid to make it seem like the car was stolen for joyriding.
Arrangements had been made weeks in advance for Mr Lewis' coworkers to take the car.
A spare key was provided to the two men, along with a red five litre fuel can.
Mr Lewis made an insurance claim with Allianz for the vehicle, which was worth $18,100.
His wife was arrested the same day.
Questions were recently raised in the Wodonga Magistrates Court about who instigated the incident, with fingers pointed at all the different parties.
In a further blow to the couple, Mr Lewis' job is set to be reviewed, with a good chance he will be sacked.
His wife hasn't worked since March.
The pair don't have any priors and magistrate Ian Watkins said they had punished themselves through their behaviour.
"My think is these people have been punished at their own hands - they've inflicted punishment at their own hands," he said.
Mr Watkins said while the pair had been charged with serious offences, "you can't really blame anyone else".
He ordered the pair be of good behaviour for the next 12 months and did not order a conviction.