Warilla man lit bushfire for ticket back to jail

A Warilla man has admitted to lighting a series of bushfires in Helensburgh last summer.

Kenneth Bellette, 45, formally entered a plea of guilty to a single charge of intentionally causing a fire and being reckless to its spread in Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday, having apparently told police at the time of his arrest that he hoped to end up behind bars for the crime.

Police documents tendered during court proceedings said Rural Fire Service personnel responded to three separate groups of spot fires around Helensburgh Railway Station between 1.35pm and 5.30pm on February 22.

The fires were only small and were quickly contained and extinguished.

On the second occasion, firefighters became suspicious and contacted police about the situation.

They were informed a short time later by Sydney Trains officials that a train driver had spotted a man wearing camouflage clothing near the tracks east of where the fires had been lit.

RFS volunteers headed to the site and started searching. They eventually located Bellette walking through bushland at the end of nearby Nixon Place.

When police questioned him about the fires Bellette admitted to starting them, telling officers he’d committed the crime because he’d previously been in Silverwater jail and ‘‘wanted to go back’’.

The court heard Bellette suffers from mental health issues and had an intellectual disability.

He is due to be sentenced in Wollongong District Court next month.