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Melbourne bouncy castle boss James Balcombe ‘scared to leave his cell after prison bashing’

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He was fined in Perth over the stamp scam and firearms offences. On his extradition to Victoria, he was jailed for a fortnight for previously using a fake doctor’s letter to avoid a court appearance.

The 57-year-old admitted last year to 11 charges of conspiracy to commit arson over the Molotov cocktail attacks on businesses in Werribee, Tullamarine, Hallam, Keysborough, Hoppers Crossing and Warragul.

The aftermath of the fire at A&A Jumping Castles in Hoppers Crossing in January 2017.

The prosecution claims Balcombe gave his former staff member Craig Anderson and two other men the business names and addresses of his competitors and paid them $2000 for every business that was firebombed.

Most of the arson attempts either didn’t catch or caused limited damage, but a fire at the A&A Jumping Castles warehouse in Hoppers Crossing destroyed at least $1.4 million of property, including the building, a truck, jumping castles and other equipment.

His lawyer previously told the court Balcombe was abusing alcohol at the time of the arson attacks. He has since been diagnosed with mental health problems and poor impulse control.

Balcombe, who before starting his bouncy castle business sold goods on eBay, appeared in court via video-link with a long grey beard and wearing black-rimmed glasses. He was supported by his wife and son, who listened to the proceedings remotely.

Judge Stewart Bayles remanded him in custody. He will be sentenced at a later date.

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