A Brisbane man got away with $70,000 insurance fraud but came clean eight years later. Picture: Jack Tran
A Brisbane man got away with $70,000 insurance fraud but came clean eight years later. Picture: Jack Tran

Man who ‘got away’ with $70k insurance fraud confessed

A FRAUDSTER who set fire to a house so he could falsely claim almost $70,000 from an insurance company was only discovered because he walked into a police station eight years later.

Damien John Bahr, 45, faced Brisbane District Court on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to arson and fraud, almost 12 years after he set fire to the Stafford house that he rented with his wife.

The court was told that on October 25, 2008, the Townsville-born man placed a lit candle near some clothes then went outside to mow the lawn.

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Crown prosecutor Amy Stannard said Bahr phoned Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and the fire was later ruled as a non-suspicious fire.

Two days later, Bahr filed a claim through Allianz insurance company for $64,000 for personal losses.

The fire caused $17,000 worth in damage to the house and the owner lost six weeks rental income.

Ms Stannard said eight years later, Bahr confessed to his wife and walked into a police station telling officers he had “decided to commit a crime with no victims”.

Bahr’s defence barrister Kate Juhasz said it was “quite peculiar” offending which “would never have come to the attention of authorities without his confession”.

Ms Juhasz said and that in the 12 years since the fire, Bahr had battled significant mental health issues but was now receiving support.

Judge Vicki Loury said it was to his credit that he confessed.

“That is the most significant mitigating feature, that you walked into a police station eight years later and confessed to having set this fire and having defrauded the insurance company,” she said.

Bahr was sentenced to four years’ jail wholly suspended.

Originally published as Man who ‘got away’ with $70k insurance fraud confessed