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Australian Bushfire Arsonist Identified as Brendan Sokaluk

One of the arsonists from the deadly Victoria bushfires has been named and has failed to show up for court because of fears for his safety:

Accused arsonists lawyer arrives at court.

A VICTORIAN magistrate this morning lifted the supression order on a man accused of lighting the Gippsland fires.

Brendan Sokaluk was due to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court this morning but chose to remain in custody and not be in court due to fears for his safety.

The 39-year-old has been charged with arson causing death, intentionally lighting a bushfire and posession of child pornography.

His lawyer Helen Spowart told the court her client and his family were at risk because of the level of community anger over the horrific bushfires.  [The Australian]

Oddly enough Sokaluk was a volunteer firefighter himself:

THE man accused of starting one of the deadly Victorian bushfires was a country fire brigade volunteer and a loner.

Hours after allegedly lighting a bushfire that killed 11 people, Brendan Sokaluk climbed on to the roof of his single-storey house and watched flames raging on the steep hills behind Churchill, neighbours say.

The Advertiser has learned local CFA officers reported Sokaluk to police earlier that day. He was questioned but it would be another five days before the single man, 39, was arrested on Maple St, midway through his twice-weekly paper round.  [Adelaide Now]

Read the rest of the article, but this guy was considered “slow”, was a loner, and lived in a pile junk.  

Sokaluk also has a MySpace page that makes some rather strange claims such as worshipping “Mother Earth”:

Sokaluk maintains a MySpace page that given what he has done is spooky.

Sokaluk was clearly bitter on a couple of fronts. A failed relationship with someone called Alexandra resulted in a profile comment of “my interest are to enjoy life to the fallest [sic] and not with alexandra because she roots behind your back and lies a lot.”

The page is scattered with appalling spelling, suggesting that Sokaluk may have been illiterate, or had suffered a learning disability.

In the hero section, Sokaluk writes ” my heroe [sic] is mother earth with out her we all would be dead.”

His MySpace profile also suggests that Sokaluk has an affiliation to a US religious group by the name of “The Truth of God,” a group known to hold extreme views against women clergy and gay people.  [The Inquisitir]

The Inquisitir was also able to dig up the MySpace profile and picture of the girl Sokaluk may have been angered at:

Brendan Sokaluk, the man accused of lighting a fire that killed 21 people in Victoria may have been acting out after being jilted by his possibly firefighter ex, The Inquisitr has learned.

In our earlier post, we noted that Sokaluk was bitter about an ex called Alexandra, writing “my interest are to enjoy life to the fallest [sic] and not with alexandra because she roots behind your back and lies a lot” on his MySpace page.

With thanks to @cravenjade on Twitter, we can reveal that person may be a volunteer bush firefighter, although we don’t yet have her last name.

Alexandra is 31, lives in the Gippsland area, and works in age care as her full time position.

Notably, her profile picture, and other pictures on her MySpace page show her in a CFA (Country Fire Authority) uniform. [The Inquisitir]

A court order in Australia has been released banning Sokaluk’s picture in the media, but that hasn’t stopped Facebook users from joining together to show his picture across the Internet:

Facebook users angered by a court order suppressing details of the man accused of starting one of the deadly bushfires that devastated Australiasocial networking site.

At least three Facebook groups have been created to name the alleged arsonist, who it has emerged was a volunteer firefighter.

At a Victoria court hearing today, magistrate John Klestadt lifted the suppression order on Brendan Sokaluk’s name but ordered that his photograph and address should not be released.

Sokaluk, who has been in protective custody since his arrest on Friday, was in the court precinct but did not appear because of security concerns.

The 39-year-old has been charged with “arson causing death” over the bushfire in the Churchill area, in which 21 people were killed.

Facebook users called for him to “burn in hell”. One wrote: “Tie the bastard to a post and put a ring of fire around him … let the fire make its way to him and make him suffer like the other 100’s of people had to endure.”

Another posted: “He should be thrown into his creation and left to burn”.

Authorities contacted social networking sites seeking the removal of the details and urging people to allow the police to do their job.  [The Guardian]

Out of respect to Australian authorities I have altered the picture of Brendan Sokaluk above, but anyone wanting to see his picture can simply go to Facebook and see it.  Seems like a hopeless fight to me by the Australian authorities to try and stop his picture from spreading on the Internet. 

Anyway as despicable as what Sokaluk did is, he is still entitled to a fair trial and hopefully the system plays out and he is sentenced to a very long time in jail.

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