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Australia Zachary Holmes of North Queensland is jailed after pouring petrol on his mother, chasing her with blowtorch

13:15  26 february  2020
13:15  26 february  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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A North Queensland man who dowsed his mother in fuel and chased her with a blowtorch has been acquitted of attempted murder, with a jury instead finding him guilty of attempting to maim or disfigure.

Julie Holmes and her son, Zachary Holmes in 2016. © ABC News Julie Holmes and her son, Zachary Holmes in 2016. Zachary James Holmes, 24, and his mother, Julie Holmes, were having an argument in her Mackay home in September 2018 when Holmes poured petrol from a jerry can onto his mother in her kitchen.

CCTV footage from a camera set-up at the front door of the house was played to a Supreme Court jury in Mackay.

It showed Ms Holmes exiting the house and that her hair was damp and matted with fuel.

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Her son then appeared with a propane torch and chased her down the driveway and onto the street.

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The court heard Ms Holmes sought refuge in a neighbour's yard, behind a fence.

Holmes pleaded not guilty to attempted murder or intending to maim or disfigure, but he did admit to pouring the fuel and pleaded guilty to an assault charge.

Holmes was sentenced to six years in jail.

He did not testify at his trial, but the court was shown a video recording of the initial interview police conducted with him soon after the incident, in which he denied picking up the blowtorch with the intention of harming his mother.

"That's what I was going to use to light my cigarette," Mr Holmes said in the police interview.

The incident occurred inside this home in the Mackay suburb of Glenella. © ABC News The incident occurred inside this home in the Mackay suburb of Glenella. In the interview, Holmes said he had kicked the fuel can from the garage into the adjoining kitchen in anger, and that some petrol may have splattered on his mother, who was standing behind the kitchen bench.

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Sherlock Holmes (/ˈʃɜːrlɒk ˈhoʊmz/ or /-ˈhoʊlmz/) is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in the stories

He then allegedly poured petrol throughout the house before setting it alight. Officers from Hawkesbury Local Area Command attended and arrested a Katie Price links arms with her mum Amy during family stroll after jetting to Spain with her children Princess and Junior to visit terminally ill mother .

"It was like an NRL kick," he said.

Police officers interviewing Holmes told him a number of witnesses inside the house had seen him pour fuel onto his mother's head.

"I'm trying to make sense of this in my head — why would I chase after mum with a mat gas [blowtorch] if I've just covered her in fuel?" Holmes said.

"Why would I try to light my mum on fire? That didn't happen."

Prosecutor Sandra Cupina told the jury Holmes' denial of acts he later admitted to, like the pouring of fuel, was evidence of a guilty conscience.

Death threat prior to attack

When Ms Holmes arrived at her home the morning of the incident, after having left during a fight the night before, her son initially would not let her inside the house and Ms Holmes testified that her son had then threatened to kill her.

Julie Holmes (left) leaves the Mackay Supreme Court, where her son's attempted murder trial took place. © ABC News: Angel Parsons Julie Holmes (left) leaves the Mackay Supreme Court, where her son's attempted murder trial took place. Ms Cupina told the jury this was evidence of his intent.

"Before having fuel poured on her … minutes before, Mr Holmes told his mother 'if you come inside, I'm going to f***ing kill you'," she said.

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Defence barrister James Benjamin told the court Holmes had wanted to chase his mother away and that he did not want her at the home — but he was not intending to kill, maim or disfigure her.

"There is no direct evidence of such an intention," he said.

"You are left only with other evidence, from which the Crown submits, you would draw an inference that Mr Holmes had one of those intentions."

Following the verdict, Mr Benjamin told the court Holmes received regular visits from his family since his arrest.

In sentencing, Justice David North said he took into account the seriousness of the offence.

"You've been convicted by a jury of a most serious offence, that is intending to maim or disfigure your mother," he said.

He acknowledged the emotional toll it had taken on Ms Holmes and how it had fractured their mother-son relationship.

"She's still in court here today supporting you," Justice North said.

"I took the impression she had no pleasure in giving evidence against you at trial."

Holmes will be eligible for parole in May 2021.

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