TWO arsonists who admitted to lighting close to 50 fires across central Victoria should have completed a fire safety course more than a decade ago, a court has heard.
The lawyers of Scott Hagley, 37, and Justin Hagley, 38, told the County Court the offence-specific treatment recommended after their 2007 arson conviction could have reduced their risk of reoffending.
The brothers and Andrew Valli, 32, appeared in court on Wednesday for the second day of their plea hearing.
The men are all pleading guilty to multiple charges of arson and attempted arson, after they lit 49 fires between early November 2019 and the end of March 2020.
The court heard the men lit the majority of the fires late on Friday nights when driving back to Bendigo after playing ten pin bowling in Shepparton.
The fires were lit using material available on the roadsides and started with a match or lighter.
In most cases, the fires were quickly spotted by another passerby and extinguished after the Country Fire Authority was called.
But one of the December 2019 fires grew to 180 acres in size and caused $64,000 in damage. Two haystack fires in Corop and Rochester in early 2020 also caused about $48,000 in damage.
Justin Hagley's defence counsel Sharon Lacy told the court the fires varied in seriousness, with many of them small and quickly controlled.
Ms Lacy said Justin Hagley had admitted to lighting one of the fires, but his guilty plea showed he was at least complicit in the others.
The defence counsel noted her client had not been diagnosed with pyromania, but had been diagnosed with an intellectual disability, ADHD, and Tourette's as a child.
Ms Lacy conceded that a more recent psychological report noted Justin Hagley no longer fell within the range of an intellectual disability.
But she said he still had cognitive deficiencies, which impacted his moral culpability.
Ms Lacy told the court Justin Hagley had prior criminal convictions for arson, for which he was sentenced to a community corrections order in 2007.
The order recommended he complete an offence-specific course, but Ms Lacy said the course was not available to her client so he never completed it.
Scott Hagley's defence counsel Nicholas Rolfe also made the same submission about his client.
Mr Rolfe said Scott Hagley had been diagnosed with pyromania, a gambling disorder, and a mild intellectual disability.
The defence counsel said psychologists determined there was a direct link between the pyromania diagnosis and the offending.
Mr Rolfe said Scott Hagley, who could not control his impulse to cause fires, would need specific treatment once released from custody.
The defence counsel submitted his client should receive a sentence of time served and then a lengthy corrections order so he could have support in the community.
Andrew Valli's defence counsel Markorius Habib told the court his client had no prior convictions for arson, although he had spent time in custody for other offences.
Mr Habib said while Valli had not been diagnosed with pyromania, the 32-year-old had issues with drug and alcohol abuse, which undermined his already impaired judgement and decision making.
The defence counsel said prison had been more onerous for Valli as his infant son had died while he was in custody.
Mr Habib submitted that Valli had demonstrated some remorse and his rehabilitation was largely dependent on the support that could be provided to him.
Prosecutor David Hancock told the court all three men should be sentenced to time in jail with a non-parole period.
Mr Hancock submitted that the offenders should receive disproportionate sentences for each charge to reflect the seriousness of their crimes.
"It was only sheer luck that more damage didn't occur," the prosecutor said. "It could have been quite devastating."
All three men were remanded in custody. They are due to return to the County Court next month for sentencing.
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