SHATTERED SHOPFRONT: St Vinnies thrift shop in Fernvale was set alight two weeks after opening.
SHATTERED SHOPFRONT: St Vinnies thrift shop in Fernvale was set alight two weeks after opening.

St Vinnies shop torched by one of its volunteers

A VOLUNTEER smashed his way into the St Vincent de Paul store in Fernvale and set it on fire - just two weeks after the charity store had been opened.

Scott Bradley Cormack, 35, was found guilty of arson yesterday after a trial in Ipswich District Court.

Around 11pm on December 30, 2010, Cormack broke into the St Vinnies store, where he volunteered almost every day.

He took a metal bar from his car and smashed in a front glass door before lighting a fire in the back of the shop.

The blaze caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to the shop and its goods. Two minutes after the fire alarm went off Cormack phoned triple-0 from a phone booth near the store telling them he heard the alarm and could smell smoke.

He parked his car almost 100m from the scene, leaving the metal bar inside.

He told police on the scene he had gone to the shop to pick up a DVD player and a hotplate he was planning on taking from the store.

He said he had a key to the store and wouldn't have needed to break the front window to get in.

However, forensic analysis of the metal bar and the denim shorts he was wearing found shards of glass matching that of the smashed door.

While Cormack's defence argued the analysis could only prove the glass may have come from the door prosecution lawyers successfully argued shards matching the door being independently on his shorts and the metal bar was astronomically improbable.

"It is unfathomable for the odds of matching glass to be found on the bar and his clothes for other reasons," the Crown prosecutor said.

The court heard no direct evidence that Cormack was seen lighting the fire.

However, the fire had been deemed to be intentionally lit.

That along with Cormack's immediate presence at the scene and glass shards found was enough for the jury to convict him.

Following the jury's guilty verdict the court heard Cormack had criminal history in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and a conviction of damaging by fire in Victoria for which he'd served time behind bars.

Cormack was remanded in custody until the sentence is handed down on Monday.



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