A LAUGHING offender undermined the good work of his lawyer in the Supreme Court in Launceston yesterday.
Risdon prison inmate David James Oakley, 18, formerly of George Town, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawfully setting fire to property.
Oakley received a jail sentence last month for the attempted armed robbery of Pizzakom in Charles Street in June last year.
Three days later, Oakley set fire to two cars parked at the Prospect Vale Marketplace while their owners were inside cleaning the shopping centre.
Crown prosecutor Peter Sherriff said Oakley broke into one of the cars intending to steal it, but set it alight to destroy DNA evidence after taking money from it.
In a police interview he said he didn't want to "cause too much damage" and was surprised that the car parked next to it also caught fire.
After being arrested for the fire and the attempted hold- up, Oakley had a suspected heart-attack in prison due to sudden drug withdrawals.
He'd been in the prison hospital for about two weeks when he set fire to a pillow and doona because he was angry he could not make a phone call and frustrated with his treatment.
Sitting in the dock, Oakley appeared to be quietly laughing yesterday.
But it was noticed by Justice Helen Wood, who said defence counsel Fran McCracken's considered sentencing submission had been undermined by her client's demeanour.
After consulting with Oakley, she assured Justice Wood that he was taking the matter seriously.
He will be sentenced on Thursday.