In DPP v Hubbard [2018] VCC 760 the Victorian County Court imposed a fine of $500 on a defendant who entered a plea of guilty to one charge of recklessly causing a bushfire.  The maximum possible penalty was imprisonment for 15 years.

On 9 February 2016, the defendant (who was 18 at the time) along with a 17 year old friend “bought two packets of sparklers and made a sparkler bomb”.  The took the ‘bomb’ to “the  wetlands in Wonthaggi”.  They lit it and it:

“… exploded to a degree that you clearly did not expect.  A piece of shrapnel caused a fire to commence and an area of three metres by roughly two metres of ground and a bracket of fern leaves was burnt.”

The defendant was able to extinguish the fire before the fire brigade arrived.

The judge noted that the crime can have very serious consequences  and even where there is not a significant fire “it is a real public nuisance, this sort of conduct”.  This was not, however, “the worst example of arson” that the judge had seen.

Given the offender’s age, his early plea of guilty, and the circumstances of the offence, the judge determined to deal with the matter by way of “a significant fine for you of $500 without conviction”.