Women jailed after insurance job led to bushfire

By Liz Mellino

A judge has condemned the actions of a Shepparton mother who started a bushfire after setting her car alight in a bid to lodge a false insurance claim.

Jaymie Paris, 24, was sentenced to 20 months in jail at Shepparton's County Court on Thursday last week, with Judge Gavan Meredith describing her actions as having potentially "disastrous consequences".

The mother-of-three pleaded guilty to intentionally causing a bushfire, perjury and attempting to obtain property by deception, after the incident that occurred in January this year.

Prosecutor Stephen Devlin told the court Paris had orchestrated a plan to lodge a false insurance claim on her blue Nissan X-TRAIL in the early hours of January 21.

Mr Devlin said just before 1am, Paris gathered three petrol bombs and a jerry can before she and some friends towed her vehicle into the bushland near Reedy Swamp.

Paris then removed the wheels from the car, removed two children's seats from the back seat and a spare tyre from the boot before splashing petrol throughout the interior of the vehicle and setting it on fire.

“The accused then watched her vehicle become engulfed in flames before fleeing into the bush,” Mr Devlin said.

The court heard the fire quickly spread to surrounding bushland, reaching up to 5m high and covering a 30m2 patch of land before a witness phoned 000.

Mr Devlin said Paris then instructed a co-accused to call police and report a break in and theft of her vehicle from her Shepparton address, which she confirmed in her statement to police.

That same day Paris called her insurance company and started to lodge a claim in an attempt to obtain $5000 for her vehicle.

Paris’ defence counsel Robert Thyssen described his client's background as extremely difficult, saying she was left as a "reasonably damaged person" as a result.

He said Paris had been introduced to drugs at an early age and continued to use ice and cannabis while on bail for the incident.

Mr Thyssen said Paris suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, had impaired judgement due to drug use and mental health issues and suffered high stress and anxiety that would make her time in jail difficult.

Mr Thyssen said Paris had been remanded since June for other offences, describing her time on remand as positive.

“Since being remanded in custody she has completed a number of courses ... been sewing jail clothing for male prisoners ... and been away from drugs for approximately five and a half months,” he said.

“She now has a firm idea of what she wants to do with her life ... she wants to improve.”

When sentencing, Judge Meredith acknowledged there was "significant evidence of disadvantage" from a young age.

Judge Meredith said he took into account Paris’ actions while being remanded and accepted she wanted to make a fresh start free from drugs.

He described the execution of the offending as at best "clumsy, amateurish and desperate", saying it was fortunate the fire was able to be controlled and extinguished.

“I do accept your motivation was to burn the vehicle out as opposed to start a bushfire ... (however), you were the architect of a deliberate and fraudulent statement,” Judge Meredith said.

Paris was sentenced to 20 months in jail with a non-parole period of 10 months.

She has already served 162 days in pre-sentence detention.