Jailed for someone else's fraud
BRETT David Peters stood to gain nothing from the arson and insurance fraud crimes he committed almost 10 years ago.
But he lost his liberty yesterday when he was led from Gympie District Court.
Highly regarded by colleagues and family, Peters was the only one of four people involved who did not give the game away, the court was told.
"Never the mastermind,” as his defence counsel told the court, Peters was "the handyman” who acted to please his co-accused wife.
The court was told Peters, his wife and parents-in-law initially got away with burning down a home owned by his wife's family in late May, 2009.
Her parents made an insurance claim on June 1, 2009 and the insurance company settled on a payout of nearly $240,000, Judge Glen Cash said in his sentencing remarks late yesterday afternoon.
Peters' then mother-in-law wanted the house burned down and was the one who stood to benefit most, the judge said. She was jailed for three months, with the rest of her sentence suspended.
Peters' wife arranged for Peters to light the fire and drove him to and from the crime scene.
She was jailed for two years, suspended immediately.
Peters' ex father-in-law, who pleaded guilty to only one of the two offences, was jailed for 18 months, also suspended after three months.
Judge Cash said Peters' mother-in-law hatched the plan and stood to benefit most from it. But all received less jail time than Peters, because they confessed and offered evidence to police.
Peters was sentenced three years jail, suspended for four years after six months actual imprisonment.
Judge Cash warned him he would be back in jail if he committed any offence punishable by imprisonment (which he said was "almost anything,” including drink driving and other offences for which jail is an available penalty).
The judge noted that although Peters was far from being the mastermind, he had carried out his task of burning the house with deliberation and forethought, wearing gloves so as not to leave any fingerprints and leaving the power on so investigators would think the fire was caused by an electrical fault.
He later received an indirect payment after a property settlement with his ex-wife, but the court was told this amounted to about $25,000.