A South Australian couple, Krzysztof and Sarah Kuchar, who blew up their investment property in Adelaide nearly seven years ago to claim insurance money, have been sentenced to six years in jail.
The couple, who were both found guilty of arson at a District Court trial in 2017, were ordered to serve a non-parole period of two-and-a-half years. Sarah was allowed to serve her sentence in home detention to care for her three young children, including a child with severe autism.
In the District Court on Tuesday, Judge Paul Muscat said the only rational explanation for the harebrained scheme was to make a successful insurance claim.
The court heard the couple had devised the plan to burn down their Holden Hill property on October 23, 2011, after experiencing problems with the tenants.
The couple went to the property, about an hour’s drive from their home, and parked around the corner. Krzysztof then spread petrol throughout the property and set it alight.
Instead of catching fire, the house exploded. The blast was so powerful, neighbouring properties were damaged by flying debris and the sheer force of the explosion.
Judge Muscat said the explosion was caused by the accumulation of petrol vapour in the home.
“As a fire investigator who gave evidence at the trial said, such an explosion was basically a one-in-a-million occurrence,” he said. “The explosion completely destroyed the house and literally shook the neighbourhood.”
A prosecutor told the District Court a man at a nearby party had heard the explosion. According to the prosecutor, the eye witness saw Krzysztof crawling out of the rubble with bone jutting out of his leg.
The witness then helped Krzysztof to his car where his wife and children were waiting.
Instead of driving to the nearest hospital, the Kuchars drove for eight hours to Wangaratta, Victoria. They sought medical assistance at a local hospital, telling staff Krzysztof had been injured in a motorbike accident.
Neither Kuchar expressed any remorse, and intended to appeal their convictions.
“Despite having participated in a seven-day long trial, neither of you appear to appreciate the overwhelming nature of the prosecution case against you,” Judge Muscat said.
“Furthermore, the manner by which both of you conducted your defence, by unfairly and unjustly blaming your own criminal action on your former tenants and their friends, reveals the lengths each of you were prepared to go in order to escape or avoid responsibility for what you did.”
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