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Logan man resentenced after pleading guilty to setting girlfriend alight

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A man who “permanently disfigured” his teenage girlfriend after dousing her with petrol and setting her alight is resentenced to a lesser nine years and six months behind bars after a successful appeal.

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A man who “permanently disfigured” his teenage girlfriend after dousing her with petrol and setting her alight has been resentenced to a lesser nine years and six months behind bars after a successful appeal.

Brae Taylor Lewis, from Logan south of Brisbane, admitted to attacking Kyesha Finemore, then 17, during a violent argument over a mobile phone outside their Marsden home in May 2016.

Lewis, who was also 17 at the time, splashed Finemore with fuel from a beer bottle, before flicking his lighter which ignited the fumes.

Finemore was left in an induced coma with burns to more than a fifth of her body and now has permanent scarring to her arms, chest, abdomen, back and thighs.

In 2018, a Beenleigh District Court jury found Lewis guilty of a malicious act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and he was jailed for 11 years.

Lawyers for Lewis, however, successfully appealed the conviction and sentence in 2019, arguing the jury was not given proper directions and the sentence had not reflected his remorse and a retrial was ordered.

The matter was meant to go to a second trial on Monday before being delayed due to Greater Brisbane’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Lewis then pleaded guilty.

He was resentenced today to nine years and six months in jail and will be eligible for parole in six months.

In a tearful victim impact statement read to the court via video link on Wednesday, Finemore spoke of the “emotional and physical scars” she lived with.

“When I realised what happened to me, I felt heartbroken to think that the one that I loved did this horrible thing,” she said.

“I became very depressed and anxious — I struggled to leave my house — there were times I thought of giving up.

“I struggle with some day-to-day tasks — I’m petrified of putting petrol into any vehicle.”

Finemore said she had been receiving counselling for the past four-and-a-half years but was still suffering from “reoccurring nightmares” about her “brutal assault”.

“The emotional and physical scars have affected every aspect of my life.

“No matter how much time passes this will always stay with me.”

Her mother Melissa Cooke, also read a victim impact statement, telling the court her daughter’s painful screams “still haunts me to this day”.

“I still see the fear in her eyes,” she said.

Cooke did not believe Lewis was truly remorseful for what she described as “one of the worst forms of domestic violence”.

“I feel he has only pleaded guilty to get his own release, while my daughter is sentenced to suffer for the rest of her life,” she said.

“This is a final act of cruelty to my daughter.”

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Kelso told the court at the time of the attack the pair had a “volatile” relationship “marked by violence from both sides” and both teenagers had been taking drugs.

During resentencing on Wednesday, Kelso told the court that Lewis had so far failed to demonstrate remorse and the judge should not consider his “late” guilty plea as evidence he held any.

“It’s certainly not an early plea or a timely plea,” Kelso said.

Ms Kelso told the court a social media account under Lewis’s name had posted recently, boasting about being released from jail.

“Plead guilty in a few weeks, who wouldn’t — Freedom f*** yeah,” she said the post read.

Lewis’ defence lawyer Andrew Hoare denied the account was used by his client, who he said had “always” been remorseful.

“He has no access to Facebook in custody,” he said.

“It must be a third-party communication, which does not reflect my client’s actual remorse.

“My client has always expressed responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

“He tried to subdue the flames and immediately offered an apology.”

– ABC / Talissa Siganto

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