A man has been found guilty of burning down a Coniston house so his ex-wife wouldn’t get it in their divorce.
Krste Kovacevski claimed he still owned the Coniston home in the early hours of August 4 last year, as he poured fuel through its rooms, dropped a lit piece of paper, and retreated to his granny flat to watch it burn.
But on Friday a Wollongong magistrate ruled otherwise: Kovacevski destroyed the uninsured, owned-outright home after losing it in divorce proceedings.
Magistrate Mark Douglass found the home didn’t belong to Kovacevski, and that he was well aware of this, having signed it over in the presence of his lawyer the day earlier.
“It was after that acknowledgement that the accused, with malice, sought to damage the property,” Magistrate Douglass said.
For the second time in as many months, Kovacevski clashed with television reporters as he departed Wollongong courthouse on Friday morning.
He managed to take a 9 News reporter’s microphone and threw it to the ground before departing.
The Mercury understands the matter has distressed Kovacevski’s elderly ex-wife.
The pair separated 21 years ago, but only divorced in 2015.
Police found 75-year-old Kovacevski in the granny flat of the Jutland Avenue. His lawyer had hours earlier lodged signed legal documents on his behalf, transferring ownership of the home to his ex-wife, in line with terms set by the Federal Circuit Court in a July 22 decision.
Kovacevski was arrested after he admitted he had started the blaze.
When questioned by firefighters, he pointed to a folder of divorce paperwork and said, "that's where it started".
At Wollongong Police station he explained he had been unable to sleep for the past four or five days.
He said he had become emotional and “nervous” after receiving a legal notice on August 3, giving him 40 hours to vacate his home.
“I got nowhere to go,” he told police. "So now I start packing ... things in a car. My pressure went up.”
“Where I can take it and where I gonna stay?
“I was in the garage. I looked around. I see the kerosene, grab it and light it up. That was it.
“I lost everything so I've got nothing to worry [about].”
He told police he poured kerosene through the hallway, outside the bathroom and in the loungeroom before setting a piece of paper alight and dropping it in the fuel.
The fire caused the roof of the house to cave in and threatened neighbouring properties, which were evacuated. The matter returns to court for sentencing on August 8.