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An Adelaide travel agent who had her business burnt to the ground by a disgruntled ex-lover has labelled him as a “coward” who destroyed her livelihood in a “devilish act”.
Rosalie Stott’s Inflight Travel business on the corner of Unley Road and Clyde Street at Parkside was destroyed by fire in the early hours of September 27 last year.
Two other businesses, a chiropractor and a Pack and Send, were also severely damaged in the blaze.
Ms Stott’s former partner, Samuel Patton of Seaton, was arrested and charged over the attack later the same day.
The 58-year-old pleaded guilty to arson for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
During a pre-sentencing hearing in Adelaide’s District Court, Ms Stott read an emotional victim impact statement during which she yelled at Mr Stott as he sat in the dock.
“I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into my profession and my business and Mr Patton’s irreprehensible, despicable, unjustifiable, premeditated behaviour has destroyed my livelihood,” she said.
“What you have done to me is the most devilish, wicked, evil act.
“It’s only a coward who would strike at night thinking no-one would see you and you thought you would get away with it.”
Ms Stott told the court she was once a happy person who was passionate about her career but now feels as if her soul and spirit have been damaged.
“I feel sad, heartbroken, ripped and torn apart,” she said.
“How could a person, you, be so callous to destroy me, not only financially, but personally and humiliate me publicly?”
Patton apologises for ‘grief I’ve caused’
The court heard the travel agency had lost around $2 million in gross turnover as a result of the fire.
The blaze caused $85,000 damage to the chiropractic clinic and $120,000 damage to the Pack and Send.
“I feel what Mr Patton has done is beyond comprehension, it’s indescribable, inexcusable and I hope Mr Patton’s sentencing is justified to his crime,” Ms Stott said.
Patton’s lawyer, Craig Caldicott, said his client had consumed alcohol on the night of the arson attack, and Patton read an apology from the dock.
“I think about it every day and I still can’t believe what I have done,” he said.
He said that Ms Stott and the travel agency “meant a lot to him” and that he was now taking anti-psychotic medication.
“I didn’t think about what I was doing to so many people I care about,” Patton said.
“I can’t apologise enough for the grief I’ve caused.”
Patton, who has been in custody since his arrest, will be sentenced on Tuesday.