Neigbour jailed for $2m church fire

Court House-07The man who burnt down St Margaret’s Presbyterian Church, causing over $2 million damage because God had killed his friends in the Christchurch earthquake, was sentenced to six years’ prison.

In the Christchurch District Court, 35-year-old Cheyenne Destiny Jade Reed, a technician, was sentenced on two charges of burglary of the church in Farrington Avenue, Bishopdale, intentional damage by fire of the church, theft of a car and perfume, unlawful possession of a knife, receiving a computer, and breach of bail.

Reed lived in the same street close to the church, and on May 7, 2016, he broke a window and stole items including a computer hard drive, and a sound mixer.

On May 15, he went into the main building through an unlocked door of the church, and took more items. He returned home, then went back and set fire to a bag in the church.

He went home again, and when he heard a loud bang from the fire woke up his flatmates, and they all went to the church which was well alight.

Defence counsel Richard McGuire said Reed attended a restorative justice meeting which was a constructive process. He had accepted substance abuse issues, and had started to address them.

Judge Gary MacAskill said Reed had said he was angry at God for killing his friends in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and the fire was an attempt to get back at him.

He said Reed had received a computer which had been burgled from Waimairi Primary School, taken a car worth $5000, shoplifted perfume from Farmers, and breached his bail.

He said the damage to the church was worth $2,276,000, but the consequences were far more than the financial loss of the church, there was also the emotional and psychological suffering by parishioners and community groups.

He said Reed had previous dishonesty convictions, and his pre-sentence report said he had a depressive disorder, and an obsessive compulsive disorder, but nothing that showed they diminished his responsibility.

He sentenced Reed to six year’s prison, but made no order for reparation as he said Reed had no way to pay it.

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