Last updated 17:51 03/09/2013
A Tauranga man sought retribution by burning down a Taumarunui Four-Square supermarket. Little did he know, the business had been sold just six weeks earlier.
Darrell John Mackie didn’t normally drink, but on May 3 this year made the trip to the small King Country town.
During his sentencing last week, the Hamilton District Court heard Mackie stopped at his brother’s grave on the way there. His brother had committed suicide a couple of years earlier. He then met up with friends and began drinking.
For reasons Mackie could not explain, he began thinking about an incident involving his daughter when she worked at the supermarket, some four years earlier.
Mackie’s lawyer, Phil Morgan QC, said a deal was struck whereby the owner would keep the incident confidential, however rumours began to surface and made their way back to Mackie.
Mackie – who at the age of 50 had never appeared in court before – left his mates and walked down the main street to the Four Square supermarket.
CCTV footage caught Mackie walking down the service lane and lighting a collection of combustible materials against a wall of the storage area of the building.
He was then seen leaving, before returning to check if it had caught fire, before leaving again.
The fire caused considerable damage to the back of the supermarket and its contents – amounting to $117,895 – and it had to be closed for repairs.
Flames also got uncomfortably close to adjacent buildings which were described as ‘‘tinder dry’’.
Morgan said Mackie had already paid $20,000 to the victims and he’d put the family’s Pukehina holiday bach up for sale to cover the remaining costs.
Mackie did not realise the supermarket had changed hands just six weeks prior and was part-owned by the lawyer who had acted for him and who he knew ‘‘reasonably well’’ when he was first arrested by Taumarunui police.
Judge Connell agreed Mackie’s behaviour was out of character and ‘‘bizarre’’ and agreed with Morgan’s submission that had he known who the new owners were he would never have done it.
However, Judge Connell said he found it ‘‘a little hard to understand’’ his actions on the night.
A psychiatric report found Mackie was suffering depression following his brother’s death and that alcohol had been the ‘‘catalyst’’ to the offending, Judge Connell said.
Apart from his guilty plea, Judge Connell found the key factor in Mackie avoiding prison was his paying of the full reparation and the $1,000 excess paid by the victims of the Patel Family Trust.
‘‘That shows that you are genuinely remorseful for what you did,’’ Judge Connell said.
‘‘I have sympathy for the new tenants at that property as they would have thought they were under attack or some racially-motivated attack and maybe relieved that you did apologise for that and it’s not someone they should fear whatsoever.’’
Mackie, who was supported in court by his wife and other supporters, was convicted on one charge of arson and sentenced to 10 months’ home detention, and ordered to pay the remaining reparation of $98,895.
– © Fairfax NZ News