No-one really knows why Xavier Kalfau burned down the property he shared with his partner.
It may have been because he was very drunk. It may have been because he was angry at his partner who had just walked out on him. Or, he may have thought burning the house and all their possessions would mean he and his partner could get back together over a “shared loss”.
All of these were posited in Napier District Court on Friday before the 32-year-old man was sent to jail for four-and-a-half years.
On April 23 last year Kalfau and his partner had argument in the flat they rented on Norton Road in Hastings.
Kalfau’s partner left the property with their young child and went to stay in a motel. Kalfau followed them then carried on driving around town, bought alcohol and drank throughout the evening.
At 10.42pm he was seen on CCTV entering Diva bar in Havelock North. He left there at 3.11am then drove home and set fire to the property by pouring petrol through the lounge and bedroom and igniting it.
The property exploded into flames and witnesses saw Kalfau driving from the scene at speed.
Kalfau denied setting fire to the property, which was a flat was at the end of converted storage shed.
The fire damaged the contents of the shed and a car, which belonged to the landlords.
Kalfau was found guilty of one charge of arson at a judge alone trial earlier this year.
In court on Friday his lawyer Eric Forster said the motivation for setting the place alight remained unknown.
“Obviously it coincided with a domestic disagreement earlier in the day,” he said, but it could have been because his client was so drunk that he thought burning down the house would give the pair a “shared loss” over which they could reconcile.
Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said it was clear that the arson’s genesis was in the disagreement he had with his partner.
“This was a significant arson of its kind and your honour will see that it occurred worryingly against a backdrop of domestic disharmony,” Manning said.
Judge Bridget Mackintosh said there was $224,000 of insured loss and $30,000 of uninsured loss and the building’s owners had spoken of the personal and financial loss in a victim impact statement.
She acknowledged the couple had two young sons and he had two older children in Auckland, and that he had alcohol issues.
“It’s no coincidence, it seems to me, that on that night you had been rejected by your wife” and that may well have influenced his conduct, the judge said.
“Whether you were trying to cause hurt to her, or yourself or your whole family remains to be seen,” she said.
The fact that he purchased petrol before setting the property alight suggested a level of premeditation, and there “was always an element of danger” with fires to those nearby and those who have to extinguish them, the judge said.
She sentenced him to jail for four and a half years but did not make a reparation order as he would be unable to pay it.
SOURCE: STUFF NZ