The father and son team accused of torching their Ravenswood pub for the insurance money have been convicted and sentenced.
A fire on 9 June 2014 destroyed the Junction Hotel, owned by the Jansen family.
In the following months, police observed persons of interest and intercepted phone calls between 65-year-old Jozef Jansen and his son Remco, aged 42, discussing the evidence and how to explain discrepancies in their stories to detectives.
Witnesses at the trial attested that the family was in financial trouble and more than $128,000 in arrears on the property, and desperate to sell the hotel.
Reportedly, three days prior to the fire, sale of the hotel fell through when the buyer learned of a VicRoads overlay on the site.
At that point, Jozef Jansen and his wife booked a room to stay at a motel in Moama on the night of what would be the fire. Significantly, they took along their dog and two sentimental items – an antique clock, and a photo of their other son, deceased.
Phone records showed Jozef and Remco in communication in the hours prior to and after the blaze.
Evidence was presented that 20 minutes before the fire Remco’s phone was picked up from the Big Hill phone tower, despite having told police he did not go near the hotel until after he was alerted to the fire. He claimed to have been at home in Kangaroo Flats, 12 kilometres away.
Following the hotel’s destruction, Jozef filed a claim with Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency (APIA) and received $358,000.
Two arson chemists testified, and although they could not determine the exact origin of the fire, suggesting it was likely caused by an overloaded electrical board, they did agree it began in the hotel’s office.
The father and son were charged with arson for gain, and Jozef additionally charged with obtaining property by deception.
In September a jury found them guilty, following a seven-day trial.
Last Friday they were sentenced in Melbourne’s County Court, Judge Jane Patrick noting the father as lead offender, with his son acting on his plans.
“You clearly were the person who stood to directly benefit from the fire. Whilst I am also satisfied that Remco Jansen played an active role in causing the fire, you were the person who had the capacity and wherewithal to plan the fire and then make the claim on the insurance company.”
Jozef Jansen was convicted and sentenced to four years, with minimum two years before being eligible for parole. He was granted bail after the trial to care for his wife, who had suffered a stroke, and had only served 24 days in custody.
He was also ordered to repay APIA $358,006.
Remco Jansen was convicted and jailed for three and a half years, also with non-parole period of two years. He had not applied for bail and already served 64 days in custody at the time of sentencing.