CFA firebug gets extra jail time

A Country Fire Authority volunteer who lit bushfires in Great Western did it because he was ‘pissed off’ at people in his fire brigade giving him a hard time.

Andrew Robert Briggs will spend another four months in jail after pleading guilty to lighting four small bushfires in Great Western near the Grampians in 2013 and 2014.

The first time the 59-year-old was arrested he told police he was unhappy with his local CFA brigade because they refused to put him on a strike team.

In December 2014 Briggs was arrested after lighting a fire that burned four hectares of paddock grassland - the fourth fire he pleaded guilty to lighting.

He later told police he was trying to get back at members of his CFA brigade who had given him "a friggin' hard time".

"I do get pissed off about a heap of people... and I don't know how to get back at the pricks," Briggs told police.

Forensic psychologist Professor James Ogloff found Briggs was socially isolated, had always lived at home with his parents, and had below-average intelligence.

"Setting fires was the one thing in his life that he controlled and mastered," Prof Ogloff said in his report to the court.

Briggs' car was caught on camera near one of the fires, his tyres were tracked at another, a receipt in his name was found at a different fire, and a police tracking device placed him at the final fire before he was arrested.

Judge Mark Taft said Briggs had a medium risk of reoffending, but his local community would keep an eye on him.

"Your offending strikes at the heart of the rural community. Bushfires have wrought great misery on those who live in the bush," Judge Taft said in the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday.

He sentenced Briggs to nine months in jail - he has already served five months - and a three-year community corrections order with supervision and mental health assessments.

Briggs also has to pay the CFA $40,041 in compensation.


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