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SA arsonist needs heavy sentence: court

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Rick Goodman

A man who lit a string of bushfires at the height of summer in Adelaide's south "for something to do" should be punished with the full force of the law, a court has heard.

Garry John Trestrail, 26, has previously pleaded guilty to multiple counts of arson, causing bushfires and property damage in early 2014, with some of his offences carrying maximum life sentences.

"Parliament has set down some very serious penalties for these offences and for good reason," prosecutor Lucy Boord told the South Australian District Court on Tuesday.

"When one lights multiple fires during the height of the bushfire season the damage caused to people and property is extensive.

"A significant custodial sentence is needed to deter anyone else from committing these offences."

Trestrail started the fires over about a week-long period in January and February, with one of them fought by 130 firefighters as it raged for six hours.

Another fire was lit at the home of a neighbour whose three children were inside at the time, forcing them to flee in terror, the court heard.

"The people living in that community were no doubt terrified," Ms Boord said. "The bushfires were popping up everywhere."

Trestrail told a psychologist that he lit the fires simply "for something to do", the court heard.

But Ms Boord said he had continually lied about what motivated the attacks and he would be a danger to the community if released.

She said one of the fires was lit at the home of Trestrail's former employer who sacked him for stealing, showing evidence of a clear motive.

"If he doesn't say why he lit them, how is anyone to stop him from doing it again?" she said.

"As it stands, his chances of rehabilitation are very, very poor."

Defence lawyer Chris Weir said Trestrail never intended to put lives at risk and had some remorse for his actions.

But he admitted a long custodial sentence was likely and his client would need close supervision once released.

Trestrail will return to court for sentencing on December 16.

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