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Bush fire arson is a crime.
The NSW RFS and NSW Police
Force are committed to fighting
bush fire arson. Bush fire arson is
dangerous. It can destroy lives,
properties and have long term effects
on the environment.
It is also costly for the community
with the loss of properties, cost
of firefighting resources and the
disruption to businesses.
How you can help
If you see something that looks out
of place, this may be what Police are
If you can, record the details of
vehicles such as the make, model
and registration of suspicious
vehicles. Also take note of the
appearance of anyone acting
Report suspicious behaviour to
Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
To report a fire emergency call
Triple Zero (000).
The NSW RFS works closely with
the NSW Police Force and other
agencies to investigate arson.
Knowing the cause of fires can
help provide accurate data, focus
prevention campaigns and to
prosecute people who negligently or
deliberately light fires.
The NSW RFS has more than 150
highly skilled investigators who work
to identify the origin and cause of
A fire investigation may take place
for a number of reasons. These
include injury or death, significant
property damage, if the fire is believed
to have been deliberately lit, or the
identity of a suspect is known.
In 2013/14, more than 560
bush and grass fires were formally
investigated by the NSW RFS. The
majority of these investigations were
conducted in cooperation with NSW
Police, resulting in several charges
Penalties for arson
There are heavy penalties for
people convicted of deliberately
lighting a fire.
A person convicted to recklessly or
intentionally causing a bush fire can
be jailed for up to 14 years.
Where a person deliberately lights a
bush fire to damage the life of another
person, the person can be jailed for
up to 25 years.
Recent amendments to the Rural
Fires Act have substantially increased
fines for deliberately lit fires. Anyone
who lights a fire on a day of total fire
ban can be fined $2200. If a person
allows a fire to escape their property
on a day of total fire ban, fines of up
to $132,000 may apply, or prison
terms of seven year.
Legislation is regularly reviewed
by the NSW RFS and amended
where appropriate to ensure fire
investigators have the ability to
conduct thorough enquiries.
For example, the Rural Fires Act
was recently amended to provide
fire investigators with the power to
enter any land for the purposes of
investigating the cause or origin of
any fire for a period of up to 24 hours
after the fire has been extinguished.
Subsequent arson investigations
are undertaken by the NSW Police
Force. There are various other pieces
of legislation that assist authorities
whilst investigating arson.
Prevent bush fire arson
Drug, alcohol charges in local court
James Bettink was convicted of a
series of drug-related charges in
the Cooma Court last week.
The 24-year-old was found in
possession of 1.32g of cannabis
when police searched a vehicle
pulled over for a random breath
test at Nimmitabel in November
Bettink was also found to be
driving with cannabis present in
his system at Berridale in August
last year. He was also found to
be supplying prohibited drugs.
A total of 21 dexamphetamine
5mg tablets were passed on to
Bettink’s friend for selling. Bettink
obtained the pills through his
prescription for his Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Bettink was fined a total of
$660, disqualified from driving for
five months and placed on good
behaviour bonds for total of 22
Charles Colin Orsini, a seasonal
worker from Queensland, faced
Cooma Court last week for
charges of damaging property,
driving under the influence of
alcohol and behaving in an
The 27-year-old was driving
his utility vehicle north on
Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne.
Failing to negotiate a left turn
onto the Alpine Way, his vehicle
hit a concrete traffic island and
rolled, coming to rest on its side.
Orsini then exited his vehicle and
walked to the Shell service station.
He then walked to the southern
end of the Discovery Holiday
Park where he kicked a door off
its hinges and destroyed a toilet
seat. Orsini was then seen walking
back to Shell, banging on the
doors. Orsini then kicked the glass
of the front door of Maya Thai
restaurant, smashing it.
Passers-by reported the
behaviour to police, who attended
the Shell service station. They
passed the overturned utility
on the way. Finding Orsini and
offering to give him a lift home,
police stopped at the vehicle
on the way back to take down
the registration number. Upon
checking, they found that the
registration was in the name of
Taking him back to the police
station, Orsini returned a high
range PCA reading of 0.162. For
this offence he has been fined
$880, disqualified from driving
for nine months and an interlock
order of 24 months.
destroying property, Orsini was
ordered to pay $550 in damages
and placed on 16 months of good
behaviour bonds. Orsini was also
fined $220 for offensive behaviour
in a public place.
ACT man Fernando Ezequiel
Caceres, 38, was convicted of a
high range PCA in Cooma Court
Driving south on the Monaro
Highway at Chakola in November
last year, Caceres was being
followed by police who observed
his vehicle swerve onto the wrong
side of the road.
Pulling the vehicle over for a
random breath test, Caceres
returned a reading of 0.158.
Caceres has been fined $880,
disqualified from driving for six
months, issued a mandatory
interlock order for 24 months and
placed on a good behaviour bond
for eight months.
Nathan Christopher Green from
Cooma was convicted of a mid-
range PCA charge.
The 39-year-old was driving a
motor scooter in Massie Street
in July last year when he failed to
give way to a Toyota Landcruiser.
The vehicles collided and Green
came off the scooter. He was
taken to Cooma hospital with a
suspected broken leg, broken
shoulder and head injuries. At the
hospital he returned a reading of
Green has been fined $770,
disqualified from driving for nine
months and placed on a good
behaviour bond of nine months.
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