A HAMILTON woman forced to leave her father’s home is alleged to have sparked the idea to burn down his house by the man who lit the blaze.
Simon Cross, who pleaded guilty to the arson and was sentenced to serve two years in jail, gave evidence in Chloe Nicole Hodkinson’s committal hearing.
Ms Hodkinson pleaded not guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to arson.
She was committed to stand trial and the case adjourned to a directions hearing in Geelong during November before a trial is expected to be held in the Warrnambool County Court.
Mr Cross told the hearing he knew his then friend Ms Hodkinson was upset at having to leave her father’s house, as her father’s second wife was moving into the home.
He agreed that on the day of October 21, 2011, he had helped Ms Hodkinson move out of the home and there was a fire in the backyard to burn some items, including a couch.
Mr Cross said that during the night he and Ms Hodkinson went to her father’s house at 74 King Street where Ms Hodkinson was involved in a discussion with a woman and her father about the state of the house and the fire burning in the backyard.
He said he heard shouting and when she returned, Ms Hodkinson was upset.
Mr Cross said he and Ms Hodkinson then returned to their friend’s house, where he continued drinking alcohol with other people at the kitchen table.
He said early the next morning Ms Hodkinson left the friend’s home.
He followed her and they went back to her father’s home. Mr Cross said halfway to the King Street home Ms Hodkinson gave him a red lighter.
“She asked me to help pay back her father,” he said.
‘‘I believe we were in the laneway leading to 74 King Street.
“She had been playing with the lighter.
‘‘I gathered she wanted me to light her father’s home.
‘‘She then dropped it on me to burn down her father’s house.”
Mr Cross recalled initially saying he didn’t want to do it, but he thought about the proposition and then agreed.
He said he and Ms Hodkinson stood out the front of the house for five or 10 minutes before they walked down the driveway.
“I opened up the back sliding door,” he said.
I reached in and lit the curtain.
‘‘She (Ms Hodkinson) was within arm’s reach on the back concrete step.”
Mr Cross said he initially denied any involvement when questioned by police, but when questioned a second time, made admissions.
He was a jailed for two years and served 12 months before being released on parole.