Bounce House Business Owner Ran Arson Campaign on Rivals

Australian man sentenced to 11 years for hiring people to burn down his competitors
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2023 10:15 AM CDT
Obsessed Bounce House Tycoon Burned Rivals' Stock, Then His Own
Balcombe was obsessed with having Melbourne's leading bounce house business, the court heard.   (Getty Images/FooTToo)

A bounce house business owner in Australia is going to be spending years in the big house over an arson campaign against his rivals. James Balcombe, 58, pleaded guilty to 11 charges of conspiracy to commit arson and was sentenced to 11 years in prison, 9News reports. The court was told that Balcombe became obsessed with a desire to make his business the leading bounce house firm in Melbourne and paid three people to firebomb rivals in 2016 and 2017, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Most of the fires caused little damage, but one business, A&A Jumping Castles, was wiped out in a fire that destroyed 110 bounce houses. The fire caused more than $900,000 in damage to the uninsured business.

The court heard that Balcombe ordered the arsonists to return to businesses repeatedly when earlier attempts failed. He was arrested three days after he ordered an arson attack on his own business in an attempt to deflect police suspicions and get an insurance payout. After he was released on bail, he fled to Perth and operated another business under a fake name until police tracked him down, the Guardian reports. Balcombe, who has been in jail for almost three years, will be eligible for parole when he has served eight years. The judge told him that while he had sought to boost his own business, his actions "impacted the lives and livelihoods of others, caused significant loss, suffering, and emotional trauma." (More bounce house stories.)

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