SENTENCED: Debbie Bodero at Ipswich court in February.
SENTENCED: Debbie Bodero at Ipswich court in February.

Alcoholism helps arsonist escape jail time

A WOMAN who burnt down a Brightview house 11 years ago – and then blamed the man who lived there – has managed to dodge jail time due to her chronic illness.

Appearing for sentencing in the Brisbane District Court on Friday, Debbie Ann Bodero, now 49, was excused from standing in court due to her poor health.

The court heard Bodero had stood trial at Ipswich District Court in February this year and had been found guilty of arson and of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The court heard Bodero had slid a piece of burning cardboard through a gap in a door to a shed on September 10, 2009.

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William Kennedy, who was 72 at the time and has since died, lived in a flat built in the shed and was inside at the time.

Judge Anthony Rafter SC told Bodero the damage she caused was extensive and the fire had spread to a house.

“The curtain caught fire and as a result extensive damage was caused,” Judge Rafter said.

Prosecutor Stephen Kissick said the damage caused to the shed and the nearby house totalled $203,596.30.

Judge Rafter said Bodero had asked a witness, Daryl Singleton, to lie for her and tell police Mr Kennedy had lit the fire himself.

“You procured Mr Singleton to provide a false statement and give false evidence against Mr Kennedy,” he said.

The court heard Mr Kennedy had initially been charged with arson and had spent a night in jail.

“Thankfully, prior to his committal hearing, Mr Singleton told the truth and the charge against Mr Kennedy was dismissed,” Judge Rafter said.

He told Bodero, to his understanding, the reason she had set the structure on fire was because Mr Kennedy had “annoyed” her.

“It’s hard to know exactly what motivated you to behave in that manner however evidence indicated you were no doubt intoxicated and there had been a dispute with Mr Kennedy,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Dead man’ blamed after shed torched

Bodero’s lawyer A. Jamieson sought a suspended sentence and argued his client’s chronic illness and poor health condition made her unsuitable for prison.

“(Her doctor) told me he is very concerned about his patient … She is in a category of developing serious symptoms and is at a high risk of dying,” Mr Jamieson said.

“That all predominantly flows from cirrhosis of the liver.”

Mr Kissick said alcohol use was the biggest danger for Bodero’s condition.

“Of course, incarceration will see her abstinent from alcohol,” he said.

Judge Rafter told Bodero he was persuaded by Mr Jamieson’s submissions.

“Under the circumstances, wholly suspended terms of imprisonment are appropriate,” he said.

Bodero was convicted and sentenced to a four-year suspended jail term.

Read more stories by Ebony Graveur.