Fire insurance plan turned to ashes

Last updated 07:10 13/07/2012

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Two men who organised for their house to be burned down to claim insurance and another man who lit the flame were sentenced in the Invercargill District Court this week.

The men were Joseph North Huirama, 43, a 45-year-old man who has interim name suppression until 4pm today, and Leon Matiu Flutey-Tuheke, 20.

Huirama and the other man, along with their wives, bought the house in Bluff as an investment property.

Judge John Macdonald said the pair decided to burn the house down and it was arranged that Flutey-Tuheke would carry out the task.

On February 7, Flutey-Tuheke drove to the house, poured petrol over it and set it alight, he said.

The house was destroyed by the ferocious fire, Judge Macdonald said.

On the same afternoon a form was completed at AMI Insurance, but no payment was made and all three confessed to the offending soon after, he said.

Riki Donnelly, who appeared for the Crown, said there was a high level of premeditation involved, there was an accelerant used and there was a risk of life.

The men's lawyers said the pair were remorseful and ashamed of what they had done.

Flutey-Tuheke's lawyer, John Westgate, said he was also remorseful and an impressionable, naive young man who had learnt his lesson.

Huirama was sentenced to seven months' home detention and 150 hours' community work for intentionally damaging a house by fire at Bluff and using a document, namely an AMI insurance claim form, with intent to obtain pecuniary advantage at Napier on February 7.

The 45-year-old man, who was sentenced on the same charges as Huirama, received six months' community detention and 400 hours' community work.

Flutey-Tuheke was sentenced to six months' home detention and 150 hours' community work for intentionally damaging a house by fire.

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- The Southland Times

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