| 23.08,17. 01:34 AM |
Man guilty over bulldozer rampage that flattened houses, cars
Photo: The site of the home at Teralba which was destroyed by a stolen bulldozer. (ABC News: David Marchese)
jury has found a man was deliberately endangering the lives of the occupants of a house he demolished with a bulldozer during a destructive rampage in the NSW Hunter Valley.
Jamie Francis Sager admitted to stealing the bulldozer and using it to flatten the home at Teralba in June 2015, but denied he was trying to threaten the lives of the three people inside.
He maintained he only wanted to intimidate them, and pleaded not guilty to a charge of intentionally destroying property with the intent to endanger life.
Neighbours of the Teralba home woke to the sound of the bulldozer razing it to the ground and crushing parked cars, and the week-long trial heard from several witnesses.
One of them, Michael Rowbotham, said he had tried to intervene but found the bulldozer's emergency stop controls had been covered up.
Sager's defence was based on the claim he did not know there was anyone inside when he went on the rampage, and he deliberately chose to attack the house in daylight rather than at night so any occupants would see him coming.
The Crown case included evidence that Sager had made eye contact with occupants of the house through a window as he sat in the cab of the bulldozer, and must have been aware the three people were inside.
"There is no direct evidence of what the accused's state of mind was at the time he destroyed the house," judge Tanya Bright told jurors.
She said the key question was not whether Sager had committed the act, but whether he was intending to endanger lives or simply to intimidate.
Jurors took about three hours to reach a unanimous guilty verdict.
Sager is due to be sentenced on that charge in October, and on other charges related to the incident to which he has already pleaded guilty.