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Jail time "inevitable" for ex-military arsonist

SupcourtHobB

Jail time is all but guaranteed for a man who lit two of his houses south of Hobart on fire.

Mark Gordon Bird has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of arson and fraud, the most recent of which saw a number of animals killed at his property in Geeveston in 2017.

The 58-year-old admitted to fraudulently obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance payouts by setting fire to his VW Kombi van in 2007 and his Blackmans Bay home on View Street in 2012 - which Bird originally blamed on a neighbour 'John' with whom he had a dispute.

Cats and chickens were among the animals to have perished in the deliberately-lit house fire at his property on the Huon Highway at Geeveston in January 2017 - a goat also had to be put down due to its burns.

An ex-girlfriend went to police in 2017 and said Bird had admitted the crimes to her.

In sentencing submissions at the Supreme Court on Monday, Defence Counsel Greg Barns admitted the crimes were serious, but described Bird's post-traumatic stress disorder from both his wife Helen Bird's suicide in 2010 and his time spent with the army in East Timor years earlier.

The court heard the money obtained through dodgy insurance claims wasn't for a lavish lifestyle or gambling, with most of it used for rebuilding and family settlements.

"This was an amateurish effort to make financial progress," Mr Barns said.

Justice Michael Brett confirmed a term of imprisonment was unavoidable, but Mr Barns has asked for a short non-parole period.

"Given my client's current mental and physical condition, prison will be burdensome," he told court.   

Bird was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Thursday 27 February.