A mother-of-seven has been jailed this week after she was found guilty of defrauding multiple insurance companies out of almost a hundred thousand dollars.
Rebecca McKellar pleaded guilty to three counts of arson, four counts of fraud and one count of willful damage after burning down three houses in just four years.
McKellar’s crime spree began in 2011 when she took out contents insurance while renting in Queensland – she burned the home down just nine days later, collecting $17,000 from the pay-out.
Dubbed ‘Bonfire Bec’, McKellar claimed the fire started after she left a blanket in front of a heater but later admitted she had wanted to seek revenge on her landlord who was demanding $6,000 in rent.
“I had some thoughts that it could have been suspicious because there was a heater on, and it was December in Queensland, and that didn’t make sense to me,” owner Kim Douglas told A Current Affair.
Three years later, McKellar changed tack and decided to stage a robbery rather than a fire. After breaking a window with a metal pole, she collected about $13,000 from an insurance policy she had once again taken out just nine days earlier.
The same year, McKellar set fire to another rental house, causing so much damage the property had to be torn down. Despite insisting she had not taken out insurance on this property, it was later revealed that she collected almost $60,000.
Just months later, McKellar took out $120,000 in contents insurance before torching a public housing property and even appeared on national news apparently devastated by the fire.
“I honestly don’t know what started it, how it started,” she told Nine at the time. “I’m still scared now, I hardly slept last night.”
However, McKellar later fled to Perth but was ultimately extradited to Queensland. While she was initially sentenced to six years in jail, McKellar will be eligible for parole after 18 months.