Regretful arsonist set house on fire over marital problems

52-year-old charged with setting fire to his family home, sentenced to three years and four months in prison

A 52-year-old man was charged with setting fire to his family home and recidivism after he himself informed police of his crime while the house was still burning. He pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday. 

The court was told that he was driven to this behaviour because of marital problems. In a moment of passion, while the wife was out with the two children, he decided to burn the house down. The court ordered that there be a ban on the publication of the accused’s name on account of the two children.

The court heard how the accused drove from his house to a petrol station in Gharghur, buying a €4 worth of petrol, which amounted to just over a litre.

The man then returned home and bundled a throw-over in the bedroom which he shared with his wife and another in the children’s bedroom. He used a match to light them on fire. 

Realising what he had done, he drove himself to the nearest police station while the fire was mounting back home and told the officers there exactly what he had done.

He told the officers that he was worried for neighbours and that he did not know whether they were at home or had already left for work.

“He took an interest in his neighbours and collaborated completely with police. Though there was some damage, the fire hadn’t yet spread by the time it was put out,” the prosecution told the court.

The defence argued that the accused had panicked when he lit the fire, realising his mistake. He feared the fire himself and decided to inform the police instead of putting it out. 

“The irony is that the fire was so small that had he put it out before leaving the house, we would not be here today,” defence lawyer Arthur Azzopardi said.

He added that his client had had a drinking problem in the past but had managed to surmount it. 

The court issued a four-year protection order for his wife and children and sentenced the man to three years and four months in prison.

Victor Axiaq was presiding magistrate. 

Christina Delia prosecuted.

More in Court & Police