Kennington man jailed for dousing ex-partner with petrol, flicking matches at her

A KENNINGTON man who doused his ex-partner in petrol and attempted to set her on fire with matches has been jailed for three years, but he could be released within 12 months.

Sean Rutherford, 23, was sentenced in the County Court in Melbourne on Wednesday after pleading guilty to five charges, including reckless conduct endangering life.

He was at a house in Junortoun on September 26, 2015, with his then-girlfriend when he started to shout at her over missing car keys.

The court heard Rutherford left and returned with a red petrol container, and he poured petrol over the woman’s head and face, stinging her eyes.

He then took matches from his pocket and tried to light one, then a second which he flicked at her. The match went out, however.

A third match lit, but he put it out before flicking it on her.

They then left the address when the car keys were found by another person.

Just over a week later, they were at the same address when Rutherford entered a rage because his then-girlfriend refused to get him ice.

He punched her to the face, causing a laceration that “bled profusely”. He then hit her with his palm, causing her top and bottom lips to be cut, before continuing a verbal tirade at her.

A day earlier, Rutherford had entered the house of a 16-year-old girl and put both hands around her throat, choking her. He then slapped the girl’s mother to the face and reversed his car into a car in their driveway.

Rutherford repeatedly violated a family violence intervention order before he was arrested in Queensland for unrelated matters on October 29, 2015.

While in jail, he rang his ex-partner six times and demanded she withdraw the charges against him, using a “threatening and aggressive” tone.

Rutherford was extradited to Victoria on February 29, 2016.

The court heard Rutherford suffers drug-induced psychosis, but has no mental health difficulties. He has an intellectual disability.

His defence counsel told the court the offending was related to his ice use.

Judge Jane Patrick said the incident involving petrol and matches was very serious.

“That episode must have been extremely frightening for your ex-partner,” she said.

“It clearly alarmed those with you. It was a very, very wrong thing to do.

“It was only by a matter of luck that no physical harm arose from that incident.”

Rutherford was sentenced to three years jail with a non-parole period of 24 months. He has already served 498 days in custody.