A man who was in jail after his knife-driven burglary plans were foiled by the victim pulling out a larger knife has been congratulated for his "huge strides" in his recovery efforts and diligence in working with authorities.
Touhid Rahman, 37, fronted the ACT Supreme Court on Friday when he was convicted of an act of arson in an Alexander Maconochie Centre cell in December 2019.
The court heard Rahman, who pleaded guilty to the charge, was the sole occupant of a cell at the prison's crisis support unit when he set fire to a pile of blankets, bedding and plastic cups.
Rahman, who was classed as high risk of harming himself, walked around it while eating before fuelling the fire again using another blanket.
Smoke began to fill the cell before he used the intercom to alert correctional officers, who extinguished the flames, which caused about $2600 in damage.
ACT Fire and Rescue had to attend to set up specialised ventilation.
The court heard Rahman was in custody before he was sentenced in December 2020 to a partly suspended jail term with a nine-month good behaviour order for an attempted aggravated burglary of a Canberra café in September 2019.
A published judgment states he had his face covered, wore surgical gloves and carried a knife when he entered the café and demanded money.
The victim pulled out a larger knife, prompting Rahman to flee.
The author of a pre-sentence report said during that good behaviour order, Rahman was diligent in his engagement with community supervision and took initiative in addressing his case plan objectives.
On Friday, Chief Justice Helen Murrell sentenced Rahman to a two-year good behaviour order for the arson, citing his limited criminal history, relatively low damage to the cell and reduced need for deterrence.
"Having regard to the offender's strong subjective circumstances and the great achievements in recovery that he has made, I consider that the sentencing purposes, particularly the dominant purpose of rehabilitation, would be best achieved by the imposition of a further good behaviour order," she said.
"The offender has made huge strides in recovering from mental illness and associated issue of polysubstance abuse."
Chief Justice Murrell said before being sentenced in late 2020, he displayed "significant impaired insight" into his mental illness.
"Since then, situation is very much-improved, resulting in the termination of the most recent psychiatric treatment order in May this year," she said.
She said the offending's objective seriousness was relatively low, it was not premeditated and had "no obvious rational motive"
"Rather, it was the product of the offender's schizophrenia - he became distressed when officers told him he could not have a shower," Chief Justice Murrell said.
"The offender's behaviour appears to be largely but not exclusively related to his mental illness."
However, she said the fire posed some risks to other detainees and correctional officers, as well as impacting on public resources.
Following the sentence hand down, Chief Justice Murrell told Rahman it was "really great to hear that you've been doing well".
"Congratulations, you've made massive efforts to get yourself on track," she said.
"You're really getting good results. Hope you can keep up the good work."
The court heard Rahman had a low risk of reoffending.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: