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Desire to bounce to the top prompted James Balcombe’s party-hire arson campaign, court told

That blaze destroyed his shed however was an try by Balcombe to divert suspicion, Batten stated. Balcombe later tried to fraudulently declare an insurance coverage payout for his enterprise, Superior Celebration Rent. He was arrested days later.

Batten stated that earlier than the fires, Balcombe expressed his motivation to a different enterprise operator.

Andrew Saliba’s business, Xtreme Party Hire, was one target of the arson attacks in the summer of 2016-17.

Andrew Saliba’s enterprise, Xtreme Celebration Rent, was one goal of the arson assaults in the summertime of 2016-17.Credit score:Justin McManus

“He instructed them he wished to be No.1, and he didn’t care what occurred to the others,” the prosecutor stated.

Balcombe, 57, appeared earlier than courtroom on Wednesday for a plea listening to after he admitted final 12 months to 11 fees of conspiracy to commit arson.

James Balcombe.

James Balcombe.Credit score:Victoria Police

Between his preliminary arrest and eventual admissions, he spent more than a year on the run, till his arrest in Perth in 2020, the place he went beneath the alias Paul Johnson, wore a wig and had a protracted beard, and ran a celebration rent enterprise and manufactured faux postage stamps.

He’s now in custody and watched Wednesday’s listening to on a video hyperlink from jail.

Defence counsel Simon Kenny instructed the courtroom Balcombe had a number of unsuccessful enterprise ventures, together with promoting items on eBay, earlier than he began a celebration rent enterprise in 2006. He entered the trade after listening to of the success of Andrew Saliba, who lived subsequent door to Balcombe’s brother.

Years later, Balcombe had Anderson repeatedly goal Saliba’s enterprise, Xtreme Celebration Rent. Saliba’s warehouses had been firebombed 4 instances within the 2016-17 assaults, inflicting a mixed $40,000 harm.

Saliba stated in a sufferer influence assertion he watched CCTV displays for hours that summer season, and recalled that he and spouse Samantha slept with a fireplace extinguisher of their bed room out of concern.

“It was a really disturbing and irritating expertise as we waited for the subsequent assault,” he stated.

Kenny acknowledged his consumer’s crimes had been “purposeful, protracted, devious and arguably vengeful”, and developed when Balcombe turned fixated with making his enterprise extra profitable.

“He turned obsessive about being the most effective and outdoing his rivals,” Kenny stated.

Balcombe was abusing alcohol on the time, his lawyer stated, and was later recognized with psychological well being issues, poor impulse management and manic episodes.


Anderson was 30 and had a drug drawback when he was an arsonist for rent, and was in the end jailed for 8½ years, to serve 5½ earlier than he was eligible for parole. The 2 different males had been sentenced to smaller phrases over their involvement.

Balcombe was fined in Perth over the stamp rip-off and for firearms offences. On his extradition to Victoria he was jailed for a fortnight for beforehand utilizing a faux physician’s letter to keep away from a courtroom look.

He has now served greater than 600 days on remand and might be sentenced at a later date.

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