07/12/2020: The burnt aftermath of the bush fire on world heritage listed Fraser Island. Pic Lyndon Mechielsen
07/12/2020: The burnt aftermath of the bush fire on world heritage listed Fraser Island. Pic Lyndon Mechielsen

Final culprit in island inferno sentenced

The final culprit behind a campfire that sparked a bushfire that razed half of Fraser Island has been sentenced.

Lachlan James Brown had already pleaded guilty to unlawful lighting of a fire, and sentencing was adjourned until Monday.

The 21-year-old Rosenthal Heights man did not appear in person at Hervey Bay Magistrates Court.

Instead, his lawyer Anthony Kimmins spoke for him via telephone, telling the court his client hadn't started the fire but had had a few drinks around it with friends and went to bed before the others.

Magistrate Stephen Guttridge recognised Brown's part in the offending was minor, and the punishment would be the same as that handed down to the other friends who had been present for the fire.

Brown was fined $667. No conviction was recorded.

Liam Gregory Cheshire, 24, was the only one of the four co-accused who received a higher fine - $1334 - because he actually lit the fire with vegetation and sticks. He also had no conviction recorded.

During his sentencing the court heard the campers had made a "terrible mistake" and believed the fire had been extinguished before they left the site.

The resulting bushfire burned through more than 87,000ha of World Heritage-listed land and raged for seven weeks before a massive firefighting effort and heavy rain finally prevailed.


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