A young man who was extensively burned by a homemade fire pit explosion in Gunnedah has been awarded more than $600,000 in damages by the NSW District Court.
The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reason, was 17 when he was sitting near a backyard fire at his friend's birthday party at a property in Little Barber Street on November 6, 2016, according to the facts.
His friend's father, Raymond Hubbard, poured an accelerant onto the flames causing an explosion and "substantial burns" to 44 per cent of his skin, including his face.
He was airlifted to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney where he remained for a month and underwent multiple skin grafting procedures.
The teenage victim has been left with "significantly disfiguring scars" and could not face returning to school where his goal was securing a mining industry apprenticeship the following year.
Mr Hubbard was self-represented and did not file a defence, nor challenge the evidence.
He expressed "sincere and considerable regret" over what had happened, Judge Leonard Levy said.
Judge Levy said the victim's work in barbering was already limited due to mobility issues, and future employment prospects would forever be stunted by his injuries and psychological distress
"Although he has found a way of dealing with, and making light of intrusive questions about his scarring, he finds that he is regularly subjected to questions and curiosity about them," Judge Levy said in his judgment.
"His reactions are largely internalised, which may not be a good thing for his longer term well-being."
The teenager has developed a phobia of fires and has trouble sleeping due to nightmares. He also avoids meeting people and suffers constant embarrassment due to his appearance.
He can no longer play contact sports in case it damages his scarring, while his physical interactions with his infant children are also restricted.
For the "substantial interference with the amenity and enjoyment of life", Judge Levy awarded a significant amount of $263,000.
Other expenses he deemed worthy included future income and superannuation losses totalling $350,000, and $35,000 for further treatment expenses.
In total, Mr Hubbard was fined $670,200 in damages and ordered to pay the victim's legal costs.
In 2019, a Tamworth judge said it was an act of "rank stupidity" that Hubbard poured a mixture of sump oil and petrol on the blaze before the "flame jetting" set fire, causing the injuries.
Hubbard was given three Community Correction Orders, or good behaviour bonds, for a maximum of 15 months after pleading guilty to negligently causing grievous bodily harm.
"In terms of rank stupidity, it's at the high end of the range," Judge Jeffery McLennan said at the time in sentencing.
"In terms of criminal negligence, it's at the lower end of the range."
- with Australian Associated Press