You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Six years' jail for church arson attack

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/09/2016 Cleo Fraser

A man who set fire to a church in Christchurch because he was angry at God for killing his friends in the 2011 earthquake has been sentenced to six years' jail for the attack.

Cheyenne Destiny Jade Reed was sentenced in Christchurch District Court on Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to starting a fire that gutted St Margaret's Presbyterian Church at Bishopdale in May.

Damage to the building amounted to more than $2.2 million.

The court heard that earlier this year the 35-year-old twice broke into the church and stole a number of items. He then returned and set fire to a bag and placed it on a carpet floor.

When Reed arrived back at his nearby flat he heard a loud bang and alerted authorities to the fire.

When questioned by police after his arrest he told them he carried out the act because he was angry at God for killing his friends in the 2011 earthquake.

During sentencing, Judge Gary MacAskill said it was more likely he started the fire to cover up his earlier burglaries.

He said the arson had caused both financial and emotional harm, noting that it had impacted a significant number of people connected to the church.

Reed's previous theft and burglary convictions, his change of attitude following restorative justice and his guilty pleas were taken into account during sentencing.

His lawyer, Richard McGuire, told the court his client accepted he had substance abuse issues that needed to be addressed, adding that health issues explained some aspects of his offending.

Reed was also sentenced to two years' jail for each of the two burglary charges he also faced, however those will be served concurrently.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon