A firebug has been jailed for three-and-a-half years after deliberately lighting a fire that raged out of control for weeks and threatened homes.
Gavin James Gardiner was staring down the barrel of more than 20 years' imprisonment after deliberately sparking the huge Ebor bushfire in November, last year.
He's been behind bars since, and now will remain so until at least the start of 2022 after he was jailed in Armidale District Court for arson.
Judge Warwick Hunt sentenced Gardiner after he admitted to a charge of intentionally causing a fire on November 14, last year, and being reckless to its spread.
He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and was granted a 30 per cent discount. Gardiner was jailed for three years and six months with a minimum of two years and three months.
The sentence was backdated to Gardiner's November arrest meaning he is first eligible for parole in February 2022.
Judge Hunt recommended that the state's parole board and Community Corrections refer Gardiner for psychological counselling and assistance when he is released.
A charge of dishonestly for gain damaging property by fire was withdrawn in court and dismissed.
The Leader revealed the then 51-year-old's arrest on November 15, a day after the fire erupted, when detectives claimed the Ebor local sparked the fire to backburn around a cannabis crop.
The massive Guyra Road inferno raged for weeks, with residents forced to flee after it burned through more than 22,800 hectares.
Further fuelling the fire, the blaze was lit during a total fire ban; and one of the worst droughts on record.
Crews had to protect Gardiner's Ebor home in the firefight - one of several to be saved - as other residents were evacuated from their houses when it spread out of control.
It was the police case that Gardiner deliberately set fire to bushland off Guyra Road on the afternoon of November 14, about 10km west of Ebor village. He made no attempt to control the blaze.