Arsonist jailed for 'terrorising' apartment building
A serial arsonist has been jailed for nine years in Queensland for an eight-hour spree that culminated in setting fire to an apartment building full of people.
Sean Douglas Broom, 52, faced Brisbane District Court on Monday having earlier pleaded guilty to two counts each of arson, endangering property by fire and entering a dwelling at night with intent to damage property, as well as one count of entering a premises with intent.
Broom was released from jail on August 11, 2020 having served eight years for arson offences and the next day, which was his 50th birthday, he was recorded on security cameras at 3pm buying a lighter from a convenience store in the inner southern Brisbane suburb of West End.
Over the next few hours Broom set fire to a nearby pile of plastic and wooden pallets before moving to the neighbouring suburb of Highgate Hill and lighting up a cardboard box underneath one house and a painter's drop sheet inside another house.
Having caused extensive damage to the value of $285,000 to the second house, Broom went to a three-storey apartment building and set fire to a vehicle in a carport.
There were 10 residents at the apartments at the time, including small children and a pregnant woman, and the building was rendered uninhabitable due to the fire causing $530,000 worth of damage.
Crown prosecutor Stephen Muir said Broom had "terrorised the building with complete indifference to life" and presented a danger to the community.
Mr Muir said Broom had an extensive history of arson offences in NSW and Queensland, going back to 1988 when he set fire to crown land as a 19-year-old man, and had previously targeted an occupied home.
Broom's barrister Thomas Zwoerner said his client had an intellectual disability and had lost his entire immediate family in a car accident in 1992 and unwittingly attended the scene while working for a tow truck company.
"It's a desperately sad matter ... he has nowhere he can stay. He desperately needs to be seen by prison mental health," Mr Zwoerner said.
Judge Paul Smith said it was "crazy" that Broom had not received mental health services while in custody and it was hard to accept a report that he did not fit the definition of a pyromaniac.
"I strongly suggest you get treatment for the problems you have," Judge Smith said.
"I agree with prosecution, it is clear you are a recidivist offender and community protection is very relevant here ... this was terror caused to Highgate Hill residents."
Judge Smith said Broom had admitted his offences and shown remorse but denied lighting fires for arousal or gratification.
"You said you were wandering around and got bored ... I accept you didn't deliberately come to Brisbane to light fires," Judge Smith said.
He declared 12 months of Broom's remand as time served and set his parole eligibility date on October 24 next year.