An Invercargill woman had been living in a Housing New Zealand property for more than five months without electricity before she set it on fire using a candle.
Patsy Michelle McCormack, 29, appeared in Invercargill District Court yesterday charged with arson of the Lauder Place house.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Rob Mills said McCormack had been living at the Lauder Place property owned by Housing New Zealand with her on-off partner.
The court was told electricity to the property had been disconnected in November last year and she had then relied on gas cannisters and candles.
On April 19, she was at the house with her partner and had been drinking bourbon and cola when she decided to set the house on fire.
She gathered her belongings and then placed a candle on newspaper, ensuring it would catch fire, the court was told.
They drove off and waited for the fire brigade to arrive but after some time went back to the house and discovered the fire had gone out, Mr Mills said. The pair then relit the fire, with McCormack disputing the police account of who lit the fire, which destroyed the house.
The court was told McCormack lit a fire in the lounge, while her co-offender is accused of lighting a fire in the linen cupboard, which firefighters described as the seat of the fire which then took hold.
McCormack told police she had been trying to get away from an estranged partner and that was why she lit the fire, the court was told.
The house was smoke and water damaged and will be demolished.
She was remanded to September 13 for sentence.
After the hearing, a Housing New Zealand spokeswoman said tenants were responsible for paying their own electricity bills.
If the power was cut, the department might not be aware of it if the tenant had not informed them, she said.
Housing New Zealand was unaware if any other tenants in its Invercargill properties were without electricity.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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