ACT News


Jail for man who torched house

A Conder man who was hired to burn down his boss's home has been jailed for four years.

Bayne Peter Austen pleaded guilty in the ACT Supreme Court to the 2011 arson.

The court heard Austen, 30, worked for the man as a plasterer and was often paid in drugs.

In late 2011, Austen's boss offered him $10,000 and a Ford Falcon sedan to torch the Gordon home to prevent his partner benefiting from a settlement.

Austen was given three bags of the drug ice, the keys to the car and was instructed the back door would be open, and a jerrycan of fuel would be in the shed.

The father-of-two doused the home in petrol and sparked the blaze before leaving.


Firefighters arrived soon after and managed to quickly contain the blaze.

Austen was paid $500 and given the car.

But he was arrested at the Chisholm shops about a month later when the Ford Falcon was reported stolen by his boss.

Justice Hilary Penfold also took into account guilty pleas for an aggravated robbery and burglary in sentencing.

Austen was arrested for an aggravated robbery in March last year.

The court heard Austen robbed a taxi driver after he had no money to pay for a cab fare. Austen first tried to pay via card and offered to sell the driver his mobile phone, but the driver insisted he accompany him to the police station.

Austen convinced the driver to pull over then grabbed him by the neck and cut his face before stealing $80 in coins and a mobile phone in the process. Austen then chased the driver around the taxi when he attempted to flee on foot.

The court also heard the burglary occurred at the Lakeside Leisure Centre in Tuggeranong in February last year.

Austen saw an employee counting money and attempted to steal it but was caught in the act.

Justice Penfold said the defendant had a lengthy criminal history and had spent half his adult life behind bars.

The court heard he first used drugs at age 12 and at one stage had a $1750 a day drug and alcohol habit.

The judge jailed Austen for four years, backdated to take into account time served, with a non-parole period of two years.

She said the sentence would give him time to confront his drug addiction.

He will be eligible for release in March next year.