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Homeless man Ashley Peter Smith avoids jail for Homes Tasmania arson attempt

Pulse Tasmania
Tasmania Fire Service, Tasmania Police officer at night. Image / Pulse

A homeless man who attempted to burn down a Housing Tasmania property he had been previously evicted from has avoided a jail sentence.

In the Supreme Court of Tasmania, Ashley Peter Smith, 32, pleaded guilty to attempted arson, setting fire to property, aggravated burglary and unlawfully setting fire to and injuring property.

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Before the January 5 incident in 2023, Smith had been living in the Punchbowl house rented by his mother for 10 years, which ended abruptly when she was jailed for stabbing her partner.

During sentencing, Chief Justice Alan Blow said Smith occasionally slept in the house after being kicked out, as well as camping in a tent or sleeping behind rubbish bins.

Chief Justice Blow stated that Smith had been drinking when he broke a window to gain entry, unsuccessfully attempting to ignite a fire using a t-shirt.

The Supreme Court of Tasmania. Image / Pulse

“Mr Smith went back to the house a little later and entered through the front door. He found that the fire had gone out. He removed the shirt from the wall, placed it on the hallway carpet, and set fire to it again,” Blow said.

“A patch of carpet was damaged. The building filled with smoke. The smoke alarms were activated. The Tasmania Fire Service attended and extinguished the fire. Mr Smith made admissions to the firefighters.”

Smith’s “desire to damage” and set fire to the house was linked to post-traumatic stress disorder from his mother’s violent behaviour and substance abuse issues.

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“His mental health would be very likely to deteriorate if he were sent to prison,” Blow said, imposing a six-month suspended prison term, 12 months of probation supervision and ordering compensation to Housing Tasmania.

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