Man jailed for gutting neighbour's house
AMANDA BANKS, The West Australian March 18, 2010, 11:52 am
A severely depressed man who gutted part of his neighbour's "dream home" with a skid steer loader before setting himself alight has been sentenced to 12 months jail.
District Court judge Julie Wager said this morning that despite the exceptional circumstances facing Marco Di Fabio when he ploughed the machine into his neighbour's Carmel property in August last year, the offence required an immediate jail term.
The court was told Di Fabio's neighbours had obtained a violence restraining order against the 43-year-old after a long running dispute over the building of their house.
Di Fabio had breached the order on August 10 when, after an argument with his wife, he had used his bobcat to build an earth ramp and ploughed through the walls of his neighbour's home.
Di Fabio also destroyed a swimming pool and garage with the damage bill amounting to nearly $180,000.
He had also injured a policeman who was trying to negotiate with him before he made good on his threats to set himself alight.
Defence Counsel Janie Gibbs said while the offence was extremely serious a suspended jail term should be imposed after taking into account Di Fabio's circumstances.
Di Fabio cried in the dock as Ms Gibbs told the court that her client had lost everything – including his home, his wife and child and his business.
She said Di Fabio had been denied access to his psychologist and psychiatrist in the weeks leading up to the offence and had stopped taking his medication for severe depression.
He had spent four and a half months in custody in Royal Perth Hospital while being treated for burns to 30 per cent of his body, during which time he had been handcuffed to the bed 24 hours a day and guarded by two men.
Imposing the 12 months jail term Judge Wager said Di Fabio's sentence had been significantly reduced after taking into account his exceptional case.
The sentence was backdated to November to take into account the time spent in custody and Di Fabio will become illegible for parole in May.
Judge Wager also ordered Di Fabio to pay compensation of more than $17,000 to his neighbours to cover the shortfall after an insurance payment.