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'Lonely' man, 58, lit sex shop bin fire

The Totally Adult sex shop following the bin fire.
The Totally Adult sex shop following the bin fire. Craig Warhurst

A LONELY middle-aged man has confessed to a series of Bundaberg bin fires, including one which came close to destroying a local sex shop.

Gregory Cox, 58, was at a loss as to why he roamed away from his Svensson Heights home late at night to mysteriously light the fires.

Cox pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to seven counts of wilful damage, one outside Totally Adult sex shop, attempted fraud and two counts of entering premises and committing an offence.

Prosecutor Senior Constable Andrew Blunt said the offences took place at night between February 2 and 17.

Cox also stole a mobile phone, monitor and GPS from a house on March 13 and attempted to dishonestly obtain money from Cash Converters.

Grey bearded and looking much older than his 58 years, Cox sat quietly in the dock before magistrate Belinda Merrin.

Snr Cnst Blunt said in another incident Cox removed louvres from Sugarland Tavern, reached his hands in and stole baking paper and aluminium foil.

Cox also breached his bail on the fire charges by leaving his house overnight on March 10 and visiting Sugarland, now Stockland.

Defence lawyer Rian Dwyer said Cox "lives an isolated and lonely lifestyle" and did not work.

Cox told Mr Dwyer he had no drug or alcohol issues, although previously had suffered anxiety and depression.

"On the surface there is no mental health issues but this offending is bizarre. It's consistent with juveniles," Mr Dwyer said.

"Lighting up bins, (he has) no explanation. Just says it was a stupid thing he did at the time."

Mr Dwyer said Cox told him he did have a lot of things on his mind at the time following the death of a friend and some rental and financial issues.

"He accepts the offending was silly, stupid and dangerous, and that he is lucky he is not here on more serious charges," Mr Dwyer said.

Magistrate Belinda Merrin noted that Cox was at loss to explain and police had been quick to find him after looking at CCTV footage.

"You went out a number of times at night and set fire to bins. Some were close to shops and stores," she said.

"The fires you lit caused some damage and you are very fortunate more serious damage was not done.

"Unfortunately there is no explanation on why you did that."

Cox was sentenced to 15 months' jail and will be released on parole on June 16.

The sentence includes jail terms for stealing, the wilful damage and fraud attempt.

The court accepted he had already spent 70 days in custody.

Topics:  arson buncourt fire sex shop


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