Arsonist jailed for torching rare rig

A rebuild firm lost more than $700,000 when its big imported rig parked in central Christchurch was set alight by vandals, the Christchurch District Court was told.

Daniel Joel Taylor, one of the group of four who were allegedly out together that night, has been sentenced to two years and four months' jail for the arson.

The 26-year-old electrical engineer was told by Judge Jane Farish that he might wish to appeal his sentence and seek a reduction if he gives evidence at an alleged co-offender's trial in August.

Taylor was appearing for sentence after admitting two charges of arson.

He had admitted using an aerosol can to set fire to clothing and a fence in Barrington. That caused a few hundred dollars of damage, but the vandalism of the rig on the corner of Kilmore and Madras streets was described in court as causing "enormous losses".

The screw piling machine – the only one in the Southern Hemisphere – had been imported from the United States in March 2012 for use in the rebuild after the earthquakes. The vandalism happened in June 2012, and the fire damage cost $123,000 to fix.

The company also had to pay a penalty payment for the contract it was working on, and it lost a further two contracts worth $220,000.

The judge ordered Taylor to pay reparations of $7000, by instalments, after his release from jail. He will pay $200 to the homeowners and $6800 as a token payment for the rebuild company's losses.

Crown prosecutor Kathy Basire said it had been a deliberate act of vandalism that had caused huge losses.

Defence counsel Paul Johnson handed the judge a reference from the employer at the firm where Taylor has worked since 2013.

Farish said the reference was at odds with the young man who had "caused so much havoc and damage" on the night. She commented that Taylor was obviously a responsible young man "sober and in the cold light of day".

However, "this does not fit with you being out driving around with friends at night, taking delight in vandalising property", she said.

The Press