Bouncy castle business owner sentenced to prison after ordering arson attacks on rivals
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A bouncy castle business owner has been sentenced to prison after ordering a string of arson attacks against his rivals.
James Balcombe, 58, was jailed yesterday after reportedly pleading guilty to 11 charges of conspiracy to commit arson against fellow competitors in the party hire equipment biz.
Victoria County Police has since stated the Melbourne-based business owner was 'completely fixated' on ensuring the success of his company, and would go to extreme lengths to fight off his competitors.
While he first entered the party hire industry with Awesome Party Hire around 2006, everything changed when he expanded his horizons to bouncy castle hire some years later in 2011.
Balcombe was so hell-bent on keeping his business afloat, he devised a plot to really outdo his competitors once and for all, when he paid off his co-offenders to firebomb competing businesses, between late 2016 and early 2017.
He met with two men, Craig Anderson and Peter Smith, and instructed them to torch two bouncy castle firms to ashes in exchange for AUD $2,000 (£1,000) per attack.
While co-offender Smith stopped after the first two attacks, more incidents came after all following a similar pattern.
Judge Stewart Bayles said: "You told them you wanted the jumping castles affected so the other companies wouldn’t be making money."
Balcombe even ordered an arson attack on his own factory in order to deflect suspicion.
While many of the attacks, which were started by lighting fuel or Molotov cocktails, only caused minor damage - there was one particular incident that destroyed a staggering 100 bouncy castles.
The arson attack at the uninsured firm, A&A Jumping Castles, went on to require a whopping AU $1.5 million (£800,000) in repair works and ended the business - totally destroying the livelihood of the business's owner.
In the following days, Anderson, Smith and an unnamed third person were arrested for the attack.
The three co-offenders made full admissions for the crimes, with Anderson and Smith nominating Balcombe as the instigator.
Balcombe's lawyer, Simon Kenny, has since dubbed the arson attacks as 'amateurish, short-sighted and unsophisticated'.
The Victoria County Court also heard of Balcombe's psychological disorders and how he became 'completely fixated' on his financial triumphs, since he 'never experienced such success in business before'.
Judge Bayles added: "It consumed your every waking moment and you were continually thinking of ways to maximise and advance your business.
"You wanted to eliminate your competition so you would succeed, your business being the number one business in the industry."
During the sentencing, which took place last Thursday (18 May), Bayles declared Balcombe's offending caused 'significant loss, suffering and emotional trauma'.
Balcombe has since been sentenced with 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to 11 charges of conspiracy to commit arson with a non-parole period set at seven years and 10 months.