A man who set a friend's car on fire with a cigarette lighter and some paper in Wodonga before running back to her house has faced court.
Simon Smith appeared in Wodonga Magistrates Court on Tuesday pleading guilty to deliberately causing the blaze on Felltimber Creek Road on October 3, 2018.
The court heard the 42-year-old had taken the keys to the woman's white Holden Trax around 9.30pm, driving it a short distance from her house.
Leading Senior Constable Penny Lawler told the court Smith parked the car in a dirt car park off the main road before setting the car alight.
"The accused then used a cigarette lighter to set on fire some paper in the back seat," she said.
"And in turn setting the whole car alight - completely destroying the vehicle.
"The accused then jogged back to the woman's house and returned her car keys to where he found them."
Firefighters attended the scene around 10.30pm but the car was already fully alight when they arrived.
The court heard police identified the woman as the owner of the car and spoke to her that night about the fire.
"She produced the keys to the car and denied any knowledge of the offence," Leading Senior Constable Lawler said.
Eventually Smith owned up to what happened and told the police he set the car on fire so the woman's ex would "stop contacting her about the car".
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The court heard Smith was not in a relationship with the woman at the time, but just had a friendship with her, and she had "put pressure on him" about her ex boyfriend.
He now believes what she told him about her ex was untrue.
Magistrate Peter Mithen said he understood Smith received no financial gain from the offence.
"But people who pay insurance premiums in the community will be affected by this as premiums will go up," he said.
"We have this damage that all the community will be impacted by, you realise this impacts everyone and their premiums."
Mr Mithen convicted him and fined him $3000.
"The penalty is there to deter others from burning out cars in this area," Mr Mithen said.
Police are continuing inquiries into the owner of the car's involvement in the fire.
No charges have been laid against her to date.
Smith now doesn't live in the Wodonga area after relocating for a new job.