A serial arsonist who volunteered for the CFA and worked for Metro when he caused millions of dollars of damage to trains and the rail network has been sentenced to 14 years’ jail.
Nicholas Archer, 28, previously pleaded guilty to 12 counts of arson, three counts of reckless conduct endangering life and a series of sabotage and criminal damage charges for incidents in Newport and across Melbourne.
County Court Judge John Smallwood said last Tuesday that Archer’s offending was “extreme” and betrayed the trust of his fellow CFA volunteers and Metro employees, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
“In many years [working] as a criminal lawyer and judge I don’t think I’ve seen a rampage from an adult approaching what you did in that period of time,” he said.
Archer’s crimes included cutting wires at signal boxes of railway stations and burning down vintage railway carriages at a Newport museum where he volunteered.
He derailed three train carriages at Hurstbridge railway station late last year, causing damage valued about $3 million.
Archer was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment with a nine-year minimum non-parole period.
Judge Smallwood said Archer had repeatedly set fires and damaged the rail network despite being “fully aware” of his actions and the impact they would have on the public.
Judge Smallwood dismissed defence counsel Ian Crisp’s argument his client might have set some of the fires at Newport’s Steamrail Victoria site because he was previously sexually assaulted there.
On March 4 last year, he started a fire at the Steamrail Victoria clubhouse in Newport, that damaged a building that housed historic locomotives. He returned to the club on August 8 and lit a fire that destroyed historic carriages.
Archer was a member of Steamrail Victoria at the time, the court documents say, and he contacted emergency services after lighting the fires.
Archer damaged a signal hut in Newport last year that affected nearby boom gates, cut rail operations on the line between Melbourne and Adelaide and cut services along the Werribee line.
– with The Age