The man said to the guests, 'I will come back and burn you'.
The man said to the guests, 'I will come back and burn you'. Santeri Viinamki

Man douses motel guests in petrol, tries to torch them

MOTEL guests were splashed in petrol by a stranger but escaped serious injury when the man failed in his attempts to ignite the stolen fuel with a lighter.

But the horror of what he did left an emotional impact on them.

In the dock of Ipswich District Court, Douglas James Kemp, 47, from Raceview, pleaded guilty to two charges of torture committed against a man and his adult son on April 4, 2018; assault of a third man; and stealing fuel.

Crown prosecutor Caitlin Thompson said Kemp's criminal history shows he had a long standing issue with substance abuse and includes five charges of driving under the influence of liquor.

She said the incident involved three males, William Conlon, Darren Couchy and Michael Purcell and Kemp was not known to them.

Ms Thompson said they were staying at Motel Monaco and were out the front at 5.30pm when Kemp walked toward them muttering incoherently.

When one of the men said they did not want to listen to his shit and to move on, Kemp said he was going to the nearby service station to get fuel and "come back and burn you".

He said he was going to the 7/11 to get the fire bomb.

Kemp pumped petrol into a watering can and walked back to the motel, saying "here I am, here I am you are going to burn".

He threw the petrol onto the clothes of Mr Conlon, some of the petrol splashing onto the legs of a third man - an assault offence.

Kemp pulled out a lighter and three times tried to ignite the fuel on the now terrified man.

Mr Purcell (his son) intervened and Kemp cast petrol over him.

He attempted to ignite the fuel three times but the lighter spluttered with Kemp unable to get a flame, Kemp saying "I'm going to light you on fire, come closer, come closer".

Kemp then said he was sorry, was dying anyway and was going to kill himself - "tell them that Douglas Kemp did it, that's my name".

Ms Thompson said when police later spoke to him Kemp said he'd been drinking and that the men had rushed at him so he threw petrol on the,

It was not accepted by the Crown that the men did that.

"He told police he was not intending to hurt anyone and couldn't remember much," she said.

The Crown case was that his actions caused severe emotional suffering, and what he did had been frightening.

And it was not a case of Kemp acting on the spur of the moment because he threatened to burn them, then went to the service station and returned with the petrol.

"Fortunately he was unable to ignite it with the lighter," Ms Thompson said.

The Crown sought a jail term of four to 4 ½ years. And with Kemp already spending 554 days in jail (18 months), he could be given eligibility to begin his parole application.

Defence barrister Stephen Kissick said he was intoxicated at the time.

"He has a life-long history of disadvantage. Growing up in a household where his father was a methylated spirits drinker," he said.

"When he was 14 his father died. At times he binge drinks."

Mr Kissick said that at the time of the incident Kemp's son was in hospital after being struck by a car - "he was excessively drinking and taking Valium".

And Kemp suffered serious third-degree burns to his back in 2017 when he had a heart attack in the street "and fell onto boiling bitumen".

Judge Dennis Lynch QC sentenced Kemp to 4 ½ years jail, with immediate eligibility to make an application for parole.

He said Kemp told the people he would get fuel and come back and burn them - "you attempted to do exactly that. Said you were going to get a fire bomb and return".

Judge Lynch was satisfied that  Kemp intended to inflict emotional suffering and that a clear danger existed by his conduct.

Impact on the victims included loss of sleep and flashbacks when they smelled fuel.