Man sets mate on fire in drunken prank gone wrong
A YOUNG man was left with deep-tissue burns after his mate dribbled petrol on his chest as he slept and set it alight.
While intended as a prank, the incident left lasting injuries and saw the instigator front the Toowoomba District Court on Thursday charged with causing grievous bodily harm.
Robert Andrew Taylor, 22, pleaded guilty, admitting it was a "foolish" act that seriously injured his school mate.
The court heard the pair was at a 21st birthday party at a large property at Jondaryan on February 9.
Crown Prosecutor Alysha Ballantyne said the victim was asleep in his swag when Taylor and a group of friends gathered around him, about 12.30am the following morning.
Taylor used a cigarette lighter to ignite a "capful" of petrol that he had poured onto the victim's thick-knit woollen jumper.
Ms Ballantyne said the victim woke in a fright and ran, before eventually removing his jumper.
Paramedics were called and the victim was transferred to the Royal Brisbane Hospital Burns Unit where he remained for 12 days.
The court heard he sustained burns to his chest, right shoulder and right upper arm, back and wrist - or about 8 per cent of his body.
"About 7.2 percent of those burns were deep dermal thickness burns," Ms Ballantyne said.
The victim required two surgeries and makes regular, 1000km roundtrips to Brisbane for treatment.
"There will be more surgeries in the future as the skin at the burn area is tight and the grafts tear," Ms Ballantyne said.
Speaking in his defence barrister Michael Copley QC said his client was deeply remorseful.
He tendered 32 character references, including one from Police Sergeant Greg Wheeler, attesting to Taylor's deep remorse and his changed character since the offending.
Mr Copley said Taylor was drinking heavily at the time, self-medicating to deal with the grief of losing his father in a helicopter crash three months prior.
"From the funeral on he started drinking heavily," he said.
"The consumption of alcohol greatly impaired his judgement."
Mr Copley also noted Taylor gave the victim a cheque for $15,000 to cover part of his treatment costs and offered to pay his wages until he returned to work.
In a lengthy sentencing deliberation Judge Nathan Jarro considered Taylor's clean criminal history, his strong work ethic, his "genuine" remorse, the money already presented in compensation and that Taylor would be subject to a civil lawsuit claiming ongoing medical expenses.
He also noted the serious damage Taylor inflicted.
"Regardless of the treatment he will suffer permanent scarring," Judge Jarro said.
"It was an alcohol-fuelled act, it was reckless, and your victim was entirely blameless.
"He speaks of the horrific injuries and the most excruciating pain."
Judge Jarro sentenced Taylor to two years in jail, suspended for three years.