Church fire was ‘revenge on God’

Court House-07Cheyenne Destiny Jade Reed said he set fire to a Bishopdale church as revenge against God for killing his friends in the Christchurch earthquake.

Reed, a 35-year-old technician, gave that explanation when questioned by police after the May 15 fire at St Margaret’s Presbyterian Church in Farrington Avenue.

Police said: “He stole items from the church and set fire to the church in an attempt to get back at God. He stated that voices in his head told him to commit the offences.”

Reed admitted the arson of the church at a video-link appearance in the Christchurch District Court, and he also pleaded guilty to theft of a car and perfume, unlawful possession of a knife, and two burglaries in Farrington Avenue.

Reed lives in the same street close to the church. On May 7 he broke a window of the church and stole several items, including a computer and a sound mixer, and took them home.

On May 15 he entered the main building of the church and set fire to a bag, then returned home.

He heard a loud bang come from the church, woke up his flatmates, and they all went to the church which was well alight.

Judge Paul Kellar remanded Reed in custody for sentencing. He requested a probation report for the sentencing on all charges on August 3, and requested that a restorative justice meeting take place.

The chapel and store room of the church were extensively damaged, with six fire engines, a command unit and a turntable ladder used to fight the fire on May 15.


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