United Kingdom

A mentally ill man who doused his friend in petrol and set her on fire will NOT be jailed

A man who doused a friend in petrol and set her alight will not serve any more jail time after a Brisbane judge found mental health a key factor in his crimes.

The behaviour of Matt James Nolan, 30, was described as 'robotic' when he arrived at the north Brisbane home where Sigourney Coles was sleeping in July 2017.

He found a jerry can at the property, spread petrol around her room and ignited it before leaving as abruptly as he arrived.

Matt James Nolan, 30, leaves Brisbane District Court on Monday a free man after receiving a four-and-a-half year sentence suspended after the 263 days he already served. Nolan was suffering schizophrenic psychosis after taking methamphetamine at the time of the attack

Ms Coles required a skin graft and has scars from burns to her arms, hands, chest, neck and lip, but has been 'extraordinarily generous' in her forgiveness.

'It is a horrifying act to set another person on fire, ordinarily it would warrant a very significant sentence to condemn that conduct on behalf of the community,' Judge Vicki Loury said in the Brisbane District Court on Monday.

'The person who would most want to condemn your conduct does not want to see you go to jail.'

Nolan stayed at Ms Coles' home the previous night after a barbecue before leaving in the morning and returning a few hours later.

 Sigourney Coles (pictured) was left with life-long injuries after being doused in petrol and set alight while asleep in her home by Matt James Nolan, a schizophrenic suffering psychosis who had taken methamphetamine as he thought his medication wasn't working

He was arrested in hospital later that day after having a mental health episode that required sedation and tested positive for methamphetamine, indicating use in the previous three to four days.

Nolan's family cried in the courtroom on Friday as his lawyer Joseph Briggs recounted several failed attempts to get him help for his schizophrenia in the lead-up to the attack.

'You were suffering from an exacerbation of psychotic symptoms at the time of your offending, you used methamphetamines to alleviate some of your symptoms when you did not receive any assistance at the hospital,' Judge Loury said.

'In fact, the use of methamphetamines led to an exacerbation of your psychotic symptoms and it contributed to some extent to your mental state.'

Mr Briggs noted the attack didn't appear to be planned because Nolan did not bring the jerry can to the home and his robotic behaviour was 'consistent of a mind governed by profound psychoses'.

Ambulance and police officers pictured outside the Bracken Ridge home where Matt James Nolan, in the grip of psychosis, set fire to Sigourney Coles

Burnt carpet and bed sheets from the scene where Ms Coles was set alight 

Judge Loury said Matt James Nolan (pictured) said Nolan's mental health treatment since the attack was successful and ongoing treatment would protect the public from Nolan reoffending

Sigourney Coles (right) has been left with terrible burns from the attack but she still didn't want Matt James Nolan to go to prison 

He said Nolan's course of treatment since the attack had been 'remarkably successful'.

Judge Loury agreed that the support systems in place and ongoing treatment would help protect the community from potential reoffending.

'Returning to custody is likely to have a significant adverse effect on your mental health,' she said.

Nolan pleaded guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm.

He received a sentence of four and a half years, suspended with 263 days served.

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