It is an insurance scam as old as the industry itself: burning down a business to try and reap an insurance payout.
Two hapless Melbourne crooks tried to do just that and lodge a $717,000 insurance claim - but a slip with a jerry can saw the plan go up in smoke.
Pizza shop owner Derek McPadden and regular customer Habil Biyak hatched the plan in 2013 which would see Biyak torch the pizzeria while McPadden waited in his car to check that the job had been done, The Age
Biyak entered the St. Albans premises in the early hours of the morning and doused the shop with petrol before slipping over and soaking his jeans. He then lit a match.
Needless to say, the pizza shop was engulfed in flames, as was Biyak’s leg.
Rushing for the exit, Biyak found the door had been locked behind him and he had to escape via a smashed window. He received significant burns to 30% of his body, and a 22-month jail sentence for his trouble.
Biyak, who testified against McPadden, rushed to the owner’s car and was rewarded with a stack of cash for his work. Biyak arrived at the home of a female acquaintance and re-enacted the arson scene for her sons, even admitting to them that it was “an insurance job”.
After 36 hours of excruciating pain, Biyak was taken to The Alfred hospital, where he remained for three months while McPadden tried in vain to cover his tracks.
He replaced his car seat to try and remove all traces of Biyak’s skin but confided in an undercover police officer after Biyak co-operated with police for a reduced sentence.
McPadden will be charged on February 6.
Far Out Friday: Now there’s a selfie-driving car!
Far Out Friday: 86-year-old legendary jewel thief’s insurance payout ruse