A woman who killed her ex-housemate after setting fire to an outdoor couch as "revenge" for being evicted will spend the next six years behind bars.
Jennifer Louise Hay, 49, appeared via video link at Wagga District Court on Monday for sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter and destruction of property by fire.
Judge Gordon Lerve said while the Tolland woman did not intend for the blaze to claim the life of 36-year-old Kylie Green, she had "deliberately embarked upon a course that was criminal and inherently dangerous".
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Lerve said Hay was "motivated by revenge" and a lengthy jail term was required.
The court heard Hay moved into the Kooringal home with Ms Green and her foster sister Jennifer Stroud-Watts in January 2019 after meeting the latter earlier that month.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Shortly after moving in, Hay began to verbally abuse Ms Green, who suffered from asthma, incontinence and extreme obesity.
On February 21, she yelled at Ms Green over her bladder condition and threatened to put her "under the house" where she "belongs".
As a result, Ms Stroud-Watts asked Hay to move out of the Tichborne Crescent home and on February 24 she collected her belongings and vacated the premises.
Later that night, Hay smoked cannabis with a friend and said she was angry about being asked to leave the house.
She returned to the home at 6am and set fire to a two-seater couch on the front patio, which quickly spread to the front of the building.
As Hay left the scene, Ms Stroud-Watts awoke to the smell of burning rubber, noticed the front of the house was engulfed in flames and went to wake her foster sibling.
Neighbours attended the scene to help the pair and Ms Stroud-Watts was able to escape through a window, however the blaze tragically claimed the life of Ms Green.
After almost 15 months of investigations, Hay was arrested in May 2020 and charged with murder and intentionally destroying property with intent to endanger a life.
These charges were later downgraded to manslaughter and recklessly damaging property by fire.
The court heard Hay was regularly smoking cannabis and injecting methamphetamine at the time of the incident and only had a "patchy" memory of the offending.
She suspected she set fire to the couch to scare Ms Stroud-Watts in "retaliation and retribution" for kicking her out of the house and maintained she had no intention of burning the house down or causing harm.
The court heard she suffered from multiple mental health issues from a difficult childhood and post-traumatic stress disorder after being a passenger in a motor vehicle accident in 2009 in which her partner died.
Judge Lerve read an extract from a report compiled by Hay's psychologist in which she expressed regret and remorse over the incident.
"I regret what I did, it's harmed a good person ... it's put me in here," she said. "Every day I think about it ... I've got to live with it every day.
"Hopefully this experience in jail is a bit of a wake up call."
Judge Lerve conceded Hay did not intend to set fire to the building but said the seriousness of the offence meant it would require a lengthy period of imprisonment.
"The offender lit the fire on the couch as revenge for being evicted from the premises," he said.
"The intention was no doubt to set fire to the lounge not the entire house. However ... the couch was very close to the house and the house was soon involved in the fire.
"The offence occurred relatively early in the morning, the offender was aware of the physical condition of the deceased and the conduct was motivated by revenge ..."
Hay was handed an aggregate sentence of 10 years and three months with a non-parole period of six years and 10 months.
Judge Lerve recommended she be released upon the expiration of the non-parole period.
Hay will be eligible for parole on March 21, 2027.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.