Lemon drove mum, fiance to insurance swindle

CASH and car woes were the catalyst for an Ipswich mum to convince her partner into committing arson.

Her crime was described as the biggest mistake in her life, and one she "dragged" her fiance into.

Ipswich District Court heard Kathleen Williams owned a Holden Captiva that had been plagued with costly mechanical problems.

Williams set out to torch the car - insured for $7140 - and collect the insurance to upgrade her vehicle.

Kathleen Louise Williams, 31, from Raceview, and Martin Stewart Manning, 35, both pleaded guilty to the arson of the car at Banks Creek on October 17, 2017.

Williams also pleaded guilty to attempting to commit fraud against RACQ Insurance on October 18, 2017.

Crown Prosecutor Jessica Beckman said Williams had no prior offences.

She said Williams could not afford to fix the car and after talking to Manning, she put it on a trailer.

It was then towed to a secluded bush area at Banks Creek, near Fernvale where Williams poured petrol over the car seats and set it alight.

She later made a false statement to police, claiming it had been stolen. Williams made an insurance claim after police contacted her to say it had been found burnt out.

Ms Beckman said an RACQ investigation found the fire-damaged car had existing defects in the transmission and steering.

Williams and Manning eventually admitted to the offence. Williams admitted persuading Manning to help her after a month or two of asking.

Manning was to be sentenced as being party to the arson.

"There was no indication that he tried to stop her," Ms Beckman said.

Defence barrister Geoffrey Seaholme said Williams should not go to jail, saying she showed great remorse.

"It is the biggest mistake she's made in her life. A mistake that will go on to haunt her," Mr Seaholme said.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC found the offences to be entirely out of character with no prior offending. Williams was sentenced to concurrent jail terms of two-and-half years, and 12 months. Both were immediately suspended for three years.

Judge Horneman-Wren said Manning should have maintained his reluctance to get involved.

Manning was sentenced to 18 months' jail, suspended for two years.



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