A WOMAN who set fire to an Echuca unit last year, destroying the property, has pleaded guilty to arson.
Maree Louise Atkinson, 45, appeared in the County Court on Thursday where she admitted to one charge of arson and another charge of committing an indictable offence while on bail.
The court heard Atkinson had been living in the Njernda Aboriginal Corporation unit in Echuca for about two years before the offending.
The court heard the property was repeatedly damaged while Atkinson lived in the property, including a number of broken windows and small fires.
The behaviour resulted in Atkinson being evicted from the property.
The court heard on June 11 last year, neighbours heard Atkinson yelling in the unit. Atkinson then set the unit on fire while her and another person were still inside the property.
The court heard neighbours attempted to put out the fire before firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze.
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The court heard the cost of damages exceeded $200,000 as the unit needed to be demolished because the damage was so extensive.
Atkinson was arrested and conveyed to the Echuca Police Station. The court heard she admitted to starting the fire but told police it was an accident.
The court heard Atkinson was on bail at the time of the offending. She spent 130 days in pre-sentence detention but appeared at the County Court on Thursday on bail.
Defence counsel Stephanie Gillihan submitted a neuropsychological report to the court, which showed Atkinson had issues with mental health and alcohol use.
Ms Gillihan also told the court Atkinson was looking to engage with a rehabilitative service in Melbourne.
Judge Irene Lawson said while the charges were serious, Atkinson did have complex medical and social needs that should be addressed.
Judge Lawson said it would be better for Atkinson and the community if Atkinson received support and treatment.
Atkinson is due to return to the County Court next month for a further plea hearing. Her bail was extended to the next court date.
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