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Vic: Man admits setting fire to home with his children inside

By Melissa Iaria
18 Jun 2009 6:14 PM

MELBOURNE, June 18 AAP - A Melbourne father has admitted setting the family home alight and holding his two children inside while it burned.

Sadik Sljivo, 33, set fire to the Dandenong North home and barricaded himself inside with his children, then aged two and four, on December 11 last year.

He'd earlier threatened to kill his former wife and mother of the children, Sanela Zlojic, stabbing her with a knife, the Melbourne Magistrates Court was told on Thursday.

Magistrate Peter Couzens refused Sljivo bail, saying he had concerns about him reoffending if released on bail.

"His conduct, to say the least, was horrific, alarming and frightening," he said.

Sljivo pleaded guilty to five charges including two of reckless conduct endangering death and one count each of assault, making threats to kill and arson.

Two counts of attempted murder were withdrawn in exchange for his guilty pleas.

The court was told that on the night of the attack, Sljivo confronted Ms Zlojic, from whom he was estranged, and took a knife from the kitchen drawer, stabbing her three times.

He professed his love for her while making threats to kill her. She received a minor injury in the attack.

Ms Zlojic was able to escape the house under the guise of going out to have a cigarette.

Sljivo then set fire to the furniture and barricaded himself inside the house with the children, the court was told.

The children were rescued by police who forced their way into the home after Sljivo refused to open the door.

The house was significantly damaged in the fire.

In her victim statement, Ms Zlojic complained Sljivo was jealous, possessive and concerned about her friendships outside the household.

Sljivo later reported to a psychiatrist that Ms Zlojic was "mentally sick", the court was told.

He described setting fire to the premises as an accident and denied feeling jealous.

The court was told he felt his wife's friend had come between them and this affected his relationship with her and the children.

Prosecutor Peter Rose SC said Sljivo's actions were deliberate and put his children in significant danger.

Sljivo's comments to the psychiatrist showed he failed to accept responsibility for his actions, he said.

Defence lawyer Mike Tovey QC said people who knew Sljivo described him as a gentle person.

He said Sljivo had acknowledged the relationship with his ex-wife was beyond repair and still wanted to see his children, but knew any prospect of that would be some time off.

Mr Couzens said he feared Sljivo would try to see his ex-wife or contact his children if released.

"The risks to his former partner and children are far too great for me to allow him to be released on bail," he said.

Sljivo was remanded in custody to appear at the County Court on September 8.