Man who poured fuel on car with woman and children inside says he ‘just flipped’

Man who poured fuel on car with woman and children inside says he ‘just flipped’

A man who poured petrol on a car with a woman and her two children inside has pleaded guilty to engaging in reckless conduct after telling detectives that he “just flipped” during an argument with the woman.

The 23-year-old, from Gippsland in eastern Victoria, pleaded guilty to two charges of reckless conduct endangering serious injury in a short hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

A 23-year-old man has pleaded guilty after allegedly pulling on the handbrake of a car being driven by a woman and dousing the car with fuel in November.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Documents released by magistrate Rodney Crisp detail how in November last year, the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was picked up by a woman and her two children after receiving treatment for an injured leg at Latrobe Regional Hospital in Traralgon.

A police summary released to The Age said that as the car arrived in the town of Moe, the man and the woman began to argue. The argument escalated and the man demanded to be let out of the car.

According to court documents, the man pulled the handbrake, causing the car to skid to a stop. The distressed woman yelled at the man to exit the car.

“So I’ve gotten out of the car awkwardly because I’ve got a straight leg,” the man told detectives in a recorded interview that evening. “We were both yelling at each other.”

After he exited the car, the man picked up a five-litre jerry can containing unleaded fuel from the footwell of his car seat.

“[He] was triggered by the fact that I said I don’t want to see him again and said, ‘Alright, you’re never going to see me again’,” the woman told police.

The man then removed the lid and poured petrol onto the front of the windscreen and roof of the vehicle, court documents say. During the episode, one of the children inside the car was crying.

The man told police: “I don’t know what came over me. I just seen [sic] the jerry can there and I was like, ‘f–k you’, and I just, I don’t know, I just flipped.”

The woman sped away with the passenger door still open “in an attempt to save her life”, according to the court documents. The accelerant was not ignited.

As the car sped away, the documents say, the man threw the jerry can at the vehicle, which landed on the road near a parked car. He then left the scene, according to witness reports in the police summary.

At 11.20pm, the man handed himself into police and gave a statement. The vehicle was seized by Victoria Police’s arson chemist for forensic analysis.

According to police charge sheets, the two charges were for two separate acts: pulling the emergency brake and pouring the accelerant.

The man had been in hospital receiving treatment for an injury he sustained while skateboarding.

CCTV of the incident was faintly captured at a chemist across the road.

The alleged perpetrator is currently on bail and will face a hearing in November.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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