CALEB O’Neill had consumed a cocktail of alcohol and Xanax when he set fire to a car in dense scrub off Croudace Road at Tingira Heights, Newcastle Local Court has heard.
And as the blaze engulfed the Holden Jackaroo and quickly spread to surrounding bushland, O’Neill, 20, sat in the driver’s seat.
That was, until firefighters arrived and began extinguishing the blaze.
Ignoring the pleas of firefighters to get down, and with the flames lapping at his feet, he used two cans of spray paint to tag the vehicle’s roof.
“Mate get off the car,” the first police officer on scene told him. “What are you doing? You’re going to get hurt.”
O'Neill turned towards the police officer and directed a few blasts of white paint his way.
“Look at the colour of your uniform,” O’Neill told him. “There’s no f---ing way I am coming down.”
O’Neill then sprayed paint at another police officer and kept moving away from police who were trying to get him off the vehicle.
Police eventually returned serve with a burst of capsicum spray, but still he refused to get off the car, which was being hosed down by firefighters.
Police then pulled O’Neill off the car and he struggled violently, lashing out and kicking at officers.
O’Neill appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from John Morony Correctional Centre where he pleaded guilty to an number of charges, including intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread, assaulting police, resisting arrest and hindering firefighters.
“It’s a bit unusual, Mr Anthony,” Magistrate Peter Barnett, SC, said to O’Neill’s solicitor, John Anthony, after perusing the police facts sheet.
“He says he doesn’t remember it.
“I suppose you’re going to tell me he was affected by something?
“You don’t often see someone light a car on fire and then stand on the roof like a candle.”
Mr Anthony said his client had instructed him he was on “a combination of alcohol and Xanax.”
Mr Barnett adjourned the matter until July so O’Neill could be assessed for an intensive corrections order, a form of custodial sentence served in the community.
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