Matthew and Sarah Fallaize leave Ipswich court.
Matthew and Sarah Fallaize leave Ipswich court. Ross Irby

Parents torched Ford to get 4WD for kids

A MUM and dad torched the family Ford Falcon in an insurance scam for a new four-wheel-drive to cart the children about on family holidays.

Matthew and Sarah Fallaize drove their Ford Falcon to bushland where the father of three set it alight, Ipswich District Court heard.

A week later, Mrs Fallaize tried unsuccessfully to claim its $11,500 insurance.

Their criminal acts were found to be "greed" by Ipswich Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC when he sentenced the pair to jail terms.

Matthew Steven Fallaize, 40, and Sarah Louise Fallaize, 32, pleaded guilty to arson of a motor vehicle at Redbank Plains on October 6, 2017; and attempting fraud to gain a financial benefit on October 12, 2017.

Crown prosecutor Cecelia Bernardin said Mr Fallaize told his wife in the afternoon that he would get rid of the Ford Falcon that night.

She did not try to stop him.

At 8.40pm, they left their home - she was driving a Nissan and he was driving the Ford.

Before leaving, he went into a shed and came out with a fuel tin.

In the darkness, he flashed the Ford's lights at her, then drove into bushland.

Ms Bernardin said he poured petrol over the front seats and set the car alight.

Truckie Mr Fallaize drove her to work and on returning home, he called police to report the Ford Falcon as stolen.

Police later found the burnt-out car. A week later, Sarah Fallaize contacted RACQ Insurance. The insurance for the Ford was never paid out.

At an interview with Springfield police, Mr Fallaize at first denied any knowledge. However, Ms Bernardin said a forensic locksmith identified the original keys had been used.

And CCTV footage taken from a street showed their two vehicles being driven in convoy at 8.51pm on the night.

The Nissan was seen entering the motorway alone about 18 minutes later - a route police say should have taken eight minutes.

Confronted with the evidence against him, Ms Bernardin said Mr Fallaize told police he did it because it was worth more (insurance) than selling it, and he wanted a 4WD.

"He thought that with it all burnt out, what could they prove," she said.

"It was motivated by greed. Rather get the insurance payout than sell. The arson was commercially motivated."

The pair was legally represented by lawyer Natasha Shorter and barrister Mitchell Cavanagh.

There was concern that as an aged-care worker, a conviction would impact Mrs Fallaize's ability to get work.

Judge Horneman-Wren noted in her evidence Mrs Fallaize believed the arson was done to raise money for a 4WD - to be used on holidays and that their children needed a bigger vehicle to take friends.

He noted that while their lives were stressful, this was no different than what was being experienced by many families.

Matthew Fallaize was sentenced to two-and-a-half years years' jail for arson, and 12 months' jail (concurrent) for attempted fraud, suspended for three years.

Sarah Fallaize was sentenced to two years' jail, and to 12 months' (concurrent) - immediately suspended for two years.

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