Australian jailed for lighting deadly wildfire
MELBOURNE, Australia – An Australian man has been sentenced to nearly 18 years in prison for starting one of the deadly wildfires that ravaged southern Australia three years ago.
Victoria Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan sentenced Brendan Sokaluk on Friday to 17 years and nine months for starting a February 2009 blaze that killed 10 people.
It was part of the worst wildfire disaster in Australian history. Hundreds of fires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.
Sokaluk was convicted last month of 10 counts of arson causing death and faced a sentence of up to 250 years.
Sokaluk is autistic, and Coghlan said he took that into account in sentencing him. The judge said he doubts Sokaluk meant to kill anyone but understood starting the fire was dangerous.