Jail term for foster care centre arsonist

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2014

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A man who set fire to a foster care service wept, swore and had to be removed from the dock after receiving a hefty jail sentence.

Tristan Larry Ian McNabb, a 36-year-old technician of Mangamutu in Tararua, appeared in Masterton District Court yesterday for sentencing on two charges of arson, four charges of breaching a protection order and one charge of assault.

The court heard that after a relationship breakdown, McNabb developed a grudge against Masterton's Open Home Foundation, which supervised his access to his two children.

On July 12 last year he set fire to the foundation's front door, damaging the building and items inside including children's toys.

Then on September 13 he set fire to one of the foundation's cars, writing it off.

The foundation said the two arsons cost it more than $28,000.

In November, McNabb twice breached a protection order his former partner had against him, first threatening her, then later punching her and knocking out two teeth.

Remanded in custody, he again breached the order by writing letters to her and their children.

Crown lawyer Ian Miller said apart from McNabb's early guilty plea there were no mitigating factors and asked for a starting point of 4 to 4 years in jail.

McNabb's lawyer, Peter Stevens, argued for home detention, saying his client believed he was being "knocked around" by the authorities regarding access to his children.

Judge Arthur Tompkins said a pre-sentence report described McNabb as a "highly entitled individual who does not think he has done anything wrong" and home detention would put his ex-partner at risk.

The arsons frightened staff at the foundation and caused them a severe setback.

Saying the offending was too serious for home detention, he handed down a sentence of three years in jail.

McNabb, who was on crutches, sat down heavily, weeping, swore, and said "I was supposed to be going home."

Tompkins asked staff to remove him from the dock as he repeatedly asked the judge to explain the sentence.

His mother Evelyn Saba was also ushered from the court, shouting at the judge and tearful.

Outside court Saba said her son had been unfairly treated.

"He loves his children."

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- The Dominion Post

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