ACT News


'It has ruined us': Cafe arsonist Nick Parlov jailed for Weston cafe fire

A Canberra man found guilty of deliberately torching a cafe in Weston has been jailed for three years.

A jury found Nick Parlov, 24, was the man in dramatic surveillance footage of the arson who smashed a glass pane and doused the cafe in petrol before setting it alight.

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Fire at cafe

RAW FOOTAGE: Security camera footage, supplied by ACT Policing, shows a suspect spreading fuel and igniting it at the rear of a cafe in Brierly Street, Weston, on March 13, 2014.

Another man, Leo Nicholas Eliadis, 47, was also found guilty of the Brierly's Cafe arson, on March 13, 2014, by having a hand in the fire and arranging payment to Parlov.

The fire was devastating for the cafe owners, a Canberra couple. They provided a victim impact statement to the ACT Supreme Court for the men's sentencing on Monday.

The owners received the keys to the business about 6pm on the evening of the fire. The former owner, alerted by the security company, was the one to call the couple after midnight to tell them the cafe had been set alight.

But the insurance company had not yet processed their insurance. So began a months-long battle with the assessors, insurers, and lawyers.


"It was an absolute nightmare," the owner said in the victim impact statement, "it nearly killed us, and our relationship."

"We were emotionally and financially wrecked from it."

Their other business failed as the two dedicated time to the fallout from the fire and their young child.

They said they would repay the money and work their way back up, but "at the moment it had ruined us."

Sentencing judge Helen Murrell found Parlov was motivated by financial gain when he set the cafe alight, but it was less clear what Eliadis' motive was. During his trial, the court heard he was the godson of a nearby cafe.

"There's a hint of a motive," his barrister Theresa Warwick said. "But no evidence." She pointed to the large number of police intercepts of Eliadis' conversations tendered in court, which contained no suggestion "he had any interest in his godfather's] cafe at all".

In his submissions, prosecutor Trent Hickey said Eliadis was the "older party and more culpable, but not significant more culpable" for the arson.

"It appears that he hired Mr Parlov to carry out the arson," he said, "without him it simply wouldn't have happened."

Chief Justice Murrell sentenced Parlov, who has been behind bars since April last year, to three years in prison for the arson. He will be eligible for parole in October, after serving 13 months.

The lower non-parole period was acknowledgement that Parlov was young and at risk of being institutionalised "if he's not offered the opportunity to change in the near future," the judge said.

But the judge also noted Parlov had been disciplined some 13 times since being in prison, including for testing positive for drugs.

He continued to deny involvement in the fire.

Eliadis guilty over banking scam

Eliadis will be sentenced for the arson on Tuesday as well as for an unrelated banking scam that only stopped when "police accidentally stumbled upon it", the court heard.

He pleaded guilty to 13 charges, including participating in a criminal group and dealing with thousands intended to be used as an "instrument of crime". A further 11 charges were laid for the use of false identification documents.

Eliadis would withdraw cash from bank cards sent to him from a family member in Greece and deposit it into Australian bank accounts. He moved about $84,000 in this way.

He also called the banks and pretended to be the accounts owners so that the cards could be used overseas.

A "weakness" in the banking system meant people in Greece were able to withdraw several hundred thousand dollars from the accounts.

The Commonwealth prosecutor said Eliadis was the main manager of the scam in Australia, while his barrister argued his role was closer to a "runner".

Eliadis took the stand, telling the court he felt shame and disgust in himself for the crimes.

"I brought shame upon all my family," he said.

Eliadis will be sentenced on Tuesday. The judge revoked the man's bail.