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Appeal court finds prison time inappropriate for Gympie man

A GYMPIE man who set fire to his unit in an attempted suicide has won an appeal to stay out of prison.

In July 2012 the man, who APN Newsdesk has chosen not to name, had been drinking with friends.

He had stopped taking prescribed anti-depressants and after drinking two glasses of wine decided to kill himself when he returned to his housing commission unit.

There, he poured a flammable liquid into a cupboard and set it on fire.

One of the men he had been drinking with noticed smoke coming out of the man's unit. He ran inside to help his friend - finding him on the floor.

He attempted to pull the man out but was overcome by the heat and smoke and left to get help. The two managed to rescue the man from the unit before neighbours and firefighters put out the fire.

The man was taken to hospital but left soon after and police found him walking along the highway. He was taken into custody and told police he "didn't want to do (life) anymore".

He was charged with arson and sentenced to three years jail, to be suspended after serving five months.

But the man challenged the sentence arguing to the Queensland Court of Appeal in Brisbane the extraordinary circumstances of the fire meant it was a "manifestly excessive" punishment for him to spend five months behind bars.

On Tuesday the Court of Appeal Justice Philip Morrison said the man's health conditions made actual prison time inappropriate.

"The evidence as to his mental health and physical disabilities was compelling. There was an abundance of evidence that his mental state not only reduced his moral culpability, but meant that prison was not appropriate given the short period that was intended to be imposed," he said.

The man was released on immediate parole.

If you need help phone Lifeline on 131 114 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

Gympie Times



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