Pregnant Hamilton woman ordered to pay $165,000 after torching dad's home

A PREGNANT Hamilton woman who helped torch her father’s home has been ordered to pay him $165,705 compensation and been placed on a two-year community corrections order.

Chloe Nicole Hodkinson, 26, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool County Court yesterday to arson involving her father David Hodkinson’s home in King Street, Hamilton, on October 23, 2011.

She was convicted, received a 24-month CCO which included a condition she perform 150 hours’ community work as well as undergo assessment, treatment and testing for alcohol and mental health issues. 

Co-accused Simon Cross, 32, pleaded guilty in March last year to arson and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with 12 months to serve before being eligible for parole. 

Crown prosecutor David O’Doherty said in the months leading up to the fire Hodkinson had been living in the King Street home but was asked to move out due to a family law property settlement.

On October 23, 2011, Hodkinson was with Cross at the house finalising her move. 

During the day unwanted items were burnt on a small fire in the backyard, including a couch. At the end of the day Hodkinson left the property and went to a neighbour’s place for drinks. Cross was also there. During the evening Hodkinson’s father visited his house and Hodkinson and Cross returned.

An argument took place between father and daughter in relation to the general state of the house.

Following the dispute Hodkinson and Cross returned to the neighbour’s place while Mr Hodkinson left and returned to Melbourne.

His daughter was upset with her father and Cross suggested setting fire to the house. Hodkinson agreed.

Later that night the pair walked back to the house, Cross entered through an unlocked rear sliding door and lit the base of a curtain with a lighter.

Hodkinson, who did nothing to prevent Cross lighting the curtain, was standing behind him at the time.

Once the curtain had ignited Hodkinson and Cross left and went back to the neighbour’s home.

Defence counsel Michael Turner said that at the time of the fire Hodkinson was particularly emotional, vulnerable and was drinking heavily.

He said she was deeply remorseful, witnesses described her as “freaking out” and she had trouble sleeping for months after the fire.

Mr Turner said Hodkinson had been close friends with Cross, who he described as being the worst possible person for her to be with at the time because of his propensity to light fires.

The barrister said Cross had set fire to his own car, his father’s car, hedges and was currently assisting police in relation to another fire at his parents’ home.

Judge Paul Grant said the fire caused $165,705 damage to the house and Hodkinson’s father had to bear the cost due to a dispute with an insurance company.

In a victim impact statement the father explained that as a result he suffered depression, sleeplessness, nightmares and found it difficult to return to Hamilton.

Judge Grant said Hodkinson was expecting another child in October this year.

He said she had excellent prospect of rehabilitation as she had been involved in no other offending since the arson.

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