Things move slowly in the bush but bringing an arsonist to justice after five years is taking things to a new level.
Kirkley Beasley faced the NT Supreme Court in Alice Springs recently, charged with setting fire to the liquid petroleum gas bowser at the Tennant Creek Service Station in 2015.
Beasley was drunk when he gathered dead grass and leaves lying near the bowser, set the pile alight and stood back to watch. He added more grass and leaves to make the fire bigger.
The incident, which was captured on CCTV, scorched the top of the LPG gas bowser, causing about $1500 worth of damage.
There was no fuel in the bowser at the time as it was under maintenance however firefighters concluded the fire could have potentially caused a ‘sizeable’ explosion.
The fire spread to the rear fence of United and caused damage to items in a storage unit and airconditioner, adding more than $7000 to the damage bill.
Beasley was arrested later that day but failed to appear in court. Although a warrant was issued for his arrest, he was not taken into custody until October last year.
Justice Kelly said police knew there had been Supreme court warrant for Beasley but did nothing despite the fact he had been living openly in Ampilatwatja and playing football for Ali Curung.
“Your whereabouts was not a secret. It seems likely that [police] would not have got around to arresting you at all if it were not for the fact that back in 2017 you took part in some trouble in the community and police finally got around to talking to you about that about three years later in 2020,” she said.
“Then, and only then, did police look and see that there was a warrant out for your arrest.”
Justice Kelly said Supreme Court warrants should not be ignored for five years.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” she said.
Beasley, who had pleaded guilty to the offence, was sentenced to two years and five months backdated to July 2020 to take into account time spent in custody. The sentence was suspended with an operational period of two years.
Justice Kelly did not impose any other conditions, saying she agreed with Beasley’s lawyer that he had been living quietly in Ampilatwatja and did not require supervision.