Brother of flood victim jailed over fire.
Brother of flood victim jailed over fire.

Brother of flood victim jailed over fire

A MAN mourning the death of his brother in the Townsville floods has been jailed for setting fire to his dead sibling's home last year.

Hilton Mark Watson stacked palm fronds in the lounge room of Hughie Morton's Palm Island unit after the half-brothers got in a fight on January 29, 2018.

Mr Morton died in the recent flood disaster; the 21-year-old's body was found along with Troy Mathieson's in a stormwater drain at Aitkenvale.

 

Hughie Morton, 21, died in floodwaters during the Townsville floods.
Hughie Morton, 21, died in floodwaters during the Townsville floods.

 

It is believed the pair jumped into floodwaters to avoid police after fleeing an alleged break in at a bottle shop.

Watson faced Townsville District Court yesterday (Wednesday) where he pleaded guilty to wilful damage.

The court heard Watson was drinking with a group of people including Mr Morton, on the day he lit the fire.

Defence barrister Kelly Stone said Watson and Mr Morton had been arguing and calling each other names.

Judge Greg Lynham said Mr Morton had been involved in a fight with a woman on the street and in response to that Watson began hitting him.

The pair fought until it was broken up by another man who walked Mr Morton off towards another family member's house.

Watson then grabbed a pile of palm throngs and placed them in the lounge room of the unit where Mr Morton lived.

Mr Marley said he turned on a gas bottle in the house and lit the throngs.

The court heard Watson yelled out to neighbours "the house is on fire and the gas bottle is going to blow".

A quick-thinking neighbour jumped a fence, turned off power to the house, turned off the gas bottle and extinguished the blaze.

The Department of Housing and Public Works provided an invoice showing works at the unit cost in excess of $63,000.

However, Mr Marley said that included work not related to the fire damage so it was difficult to know the financial cost of the fire but it was "extensive".

"Any offence involving deliberately setting fire to a house is serious," Judge Lynham told Watson.

"Your conduct here was foolish."

Taking into account a month already served behind cars, Watson was sentenced to 14 months jail to be released on parole in June.