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July 14, 2008 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Student in court for $1 million hostel fire, yet to tell parents

An international student formerly enrolled at Victoria University pleaded guilty to recklessly setting fire to a student hostel earlier this year, causing more than $1 million in damage.

At the 3 July hearing in Wellington District Court, Judge Stephen Harrop jailed Bennet Alexander for 2½ years for what he described as an act of “enormous stupidity.” Bennet was later granted bail pending appeal to the High Court.

The hearing heard that Alexander returned to Stafford House on The Terrace at about 3.30 a.m. after the rugby Sevens tournament on 7 February and after assisting a friend to bed, he entered the lift to his fourth-floor room. Inside the lift, Alexander held a lit lighter to what appeared to be metal, aiming to leave a black mark. However, it was highly flammable plastic, which burst into flame.

He thought he had put out the fire before going to bed, but it spread to the two other lifts in the building and sent black smoke throughout the building. The hostel’s 120 occupants were evacuated, with many requiring assistance because they had been drinking.

Students had to be re-housed and counselled, while the building required repair. Hostel managers described it as a “nightmare night.”

According to his lawyer, Alexander wished he could put things right and that at the time, he had not thought of the risk. The Crown prosecutor agreed that there had been no malevolent intent behind Alexander’s act.

Since the fire, Alexander has since been expelled from Victoria and his student visa was revoked after his charges were laid. He has yet to inform his parents in the United States as he appeals against deportation.


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Comments (3)

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  1. j says:

    omg u dork

  2. Bennet Alexander says:

    Wooooooow, Salient can copy quite well from the Dominion Post. It was the 4th July and my parents know, miss Choi.

  3. Michael Oliver says:

    Hahaha, this guy.

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