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Vic: Schizophrenic man disfigured in pursuit of 'fun'

By Daniel Fogarty
19 Feb 2009 7:21 PM

MELBOURNE, Feb 19 AAP - Schizophrenia sufferer Irving Plotkin is permanently disfigured from horrific burns. Surgeons have had to remove one of his eyelids. And he will likely lose his lips.

His recovery has been agonising but for the five youths who went to his house, threw petrol about and set it on fire, it was just a bit of "fun".

They were "bored" when they decided to seek out the 60-year-old's Rosebud home and set fire to his door in September last year, the Victorian County Court was told on Thursday.

The youths knew Mr Plotkin because they'd targeted him before.

A few weeks earlier, three of the five had hurled a tub of thickened cream at him outside the Rosebud Hotel.

On the night of the petrol attack, 19-year-old James Dingle suggested they torch Mr Plotkin's door, the court was told.

His mates Richard James Findlay, Adam Taylor, Tyson Jessen and Allan Walters, all 20, thought it was a great idea.

All now face the prospect of lengthy jail terms after pleading guilty to arson and reckless conduct endangering life.

As he detailed the case on Thursday, Crown Prosecutor Peter Kidd said fun seemed to be a primary motivation for the attack, which left Mr Plotkin with horrific burns to nearly 50 per cent of his body.

Jessen had told police he was "trying to have fun".

Mr Kidd also said Walters had indicated he was out for a good time, to "have a bit of fun".

Dingle and Findlay offered no explanation for lighting the fire that also destroyed Mr Plotkin's home.

Taylor had blamed "stupidity", the court was told.

Before driving to Mr Plotkin's house, Jessen filled a watering can with petrol at a convenience store.

Once there they pretended to be police. As their victim opened the door, Findlay threw fuel from the watering can towards the door but it splashed onto Mr Plotkin's body.

One of the men then ignited the watering can and threw it through a window. Fire quickly engulfed the home and Mr Plotkin, the court was told.

Judge Barbara Cotterell compared the attack to arson attacks that spark bushfires.

"It (bushfire arson) is just what he (Walters) did on a larger scale," she said.

"Arson is an appalling offence whatever happens. They are very lucky that in fact the house next door did not catch on fire.

"That is what happens when you throw petrol and set a house alight."

Walters' lawyer Tim Gattuso said the attack resulted from immaturity, boredom and stupidity. His client felt "really bad" for what he'd done.

Taylor's lawyer James Dowsley said his client was mortified by his actions.

"It is unfortunately a terrible illustration of what can occur or go wrong when a group of youths get together," he said.

The pre-sentence hearing continues on Monday.