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Mentally ill arsonist avoids jail sentence

- SEAN FEWSTER CHIEF COURT REPORTER

A MENTALLY ill arsonist who burned down a sports hall that he believed was used for violent sexual offending will spend seven years under supervisio­n in the community.

The District Court yesterday ordered Steven Andrew Timmins serve a seven-year limiting term — a period under mental health care equal to the jail term a well person would receive.

Judge Rosemary Davey acknowledg­ed there was “some risk” in allowing Timmins, right, to serve that term in the community, but doctors were confident it could be managed.

She warned Timmins he would be immediatel­y detained if he disobeyed the conditions of his release or showed “any further manifestat­ion of dangerous conduct”.

“The setting of this fire was very serious offending behaviour and the victims suffered substantia­l loss,” she said.

“You say you lit the fire because you believed, quite wrongly, that the premises were used for homosexual and violent assaults.

“That was a delusional belief ... that belief was because of your paranoid schizophre­nia.”

Timmins, 32, was found not guilty of arson by reason of mental illness.

In September last year he set fire to the Anembo Park Clubhouse, destroying most of the structure and causing $400,000 damage before 30 CFS volunteers brought it under control.

Yesterday, Judge Davey said Timmins should have been subject to a mental health community treatment order at the time of the arson but was not “for reasons that are unclear”.

Judge Davey said Timmins turned himself in to SA Police and admitted his crime.

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