Father accused of lighting fires allegedly wanted to impress his four-year-old son

Ricky Ballard-Lestrange has been charged with intentionally causing fires

A former rural fire service volunteer has been charged with arson after allegedly lighting fires during the NSW heatwave to impress his young son.

Ricky Kenneth Ballard-Lestrange, 31, appeared in Taree Local Court yesterday in relation to two fires allegedly lit near Forster with a cigarette and lighter. It’s believed the father of four had two children under the age of 10 with him at the time the fires were lit.

The court heard that Ballard-Lestrange knew the fires would ‘go stupid’ and potentially even endanger his property, but did it anyway because his four-year-old son ‘likes fire trucks’ and wanted to see them in action.

Ballard-Lestrange was arrested 30 minutes later and allegedly admitted to police that he started the blazes.

‘The accused stated he was aware that given the high temperature, low humidity and dry grass that the fire would spread rapidly, would ‘go stupid’ and be difficult to control,’ the police statement said.

He was refused bail and will appear in court again next week.

Two other males, aged 13 and 40, have also been charged with lighting fires across the weekend.

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