Brains behind arson's pact of silence back behind bars

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 09:00 27/07/2013

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The brains behind a pact of silence over a family home fire bombing has added another prison sentence to his 45-year criminal career.

Kevin James Howse, 58, has been jailed for three years, six months for his part in the arson of his ex lover's Levin house in February 2011.

The Palmerston North District Court heard yesterday that Howse has 68 convictions going back to the late 1960s, although his last offending was in 2002.

Howse's brother Bruce is serving a 25-year minimum jail term for murdering his two stepdaughters in Masterton in 2001.

Kevin Howse was to have faced trial but changed his plea just days before the jury was assembled.

"This arson was motivated by revenge," Crown prosecutor Daniel Flinn said.

He expressed concern that in a pre-sentence report Howse worried about losing items that belonged to his mother that were in the house, but didn't say anything about the victim's losses.

Judge Barbara Morris noted that Howse wasn't present when two female friends threw a molotov cocktail at the house, but he was involved in the planning and subsequently instigated a "pact of silence".

Howse's three sidekicks are all serving jail terms.

The whole thing was made worse because although nobody was home at the time, the arsonists didn't know that.

Earlier in the day, when arguing with his ex lover about a burglary of his home he blamed on her, Howse told the woman her house would burn.

"The family home of the victim was destroyed and it was one which she had lived in for 30 years," Judge Morris said.

"She brought her children up in her home. She had photographs of them in it. She had items belonging to her parents - all of those were irreplaceable. She described the impact as being greater than the grief of losing a person close to her."

Defence lawyer Simon Hewson said Howse's bail conditions had forced him to live away from home in Dannevirke and his firewood business had ceased.

Howse was remorseful, a fact Judge Morris accepted.

"I think this is the last we'll see of this member of the Howse family," Mr Hewson said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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