Brisbane man convicted of turning on fire hydrants and causing serious damage to buildings

In an act of “drunken stupidity”, Daniel Martin Kornaus turned on two fire hydrants in a downtown Brisbane building complex while visiting a friend.

Little did Kornaus know that each hydrant activated pumps that delivered 1,000 liters of water per minute.

They were shut down after half an hour, but by then the damage was done.

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When rescue workers arrived, seven of the 13 residential floors of the Woolloongabba building were flooded.

Water flowed from the elevators.

Damage to the building from the February 2021 incident was estimated at more than $500,000.

Residents of Vicinity Tower in Woolloongabba have been evacuated. Recognition: neighborhood tower

This does not include the considerable financial losses suffered by local residents.

Tenants in 52 of the complex’s 92 units had to vacate after property damage lasted more than a week.

Kornaus, 26, told police he was “blacked out” at the time.

“It was a drunken, stupid, inexplicable and tragic misjudgment that had profound consequences,” defense attorney Dan Boddice said.

Brisbane District Court heard building management was notified of flooding around 3am.

After police examined CCTV footage, it emerged that Kornaus had turned on fire hydrants on the sixth and seventh floors of the stairwell.

He was visiting a friend on the sixth floor.

“Inexplicable Behavior”

“I suppose it’s just luck that you didn’t do this on the 11th or 12th floor and cause more damage,” Judge Michael Byrne said.

Crown Prosecutor Edward Fleetwood said Kornaus’ “inexplicable conduct” also included stealing 11 fire extinguishers from the building and stowing them in a vehicle parked on the ground floor.

He also tore down fire evacuation signs around the complex and hit a vehicle in the ground floor parking lot with a fire extinguisher.

When asked by Judge Byrne if the car was attacked, Fleetwood said, “No, there’s no rhyme or reason for it.”

The court heard that Kornaus was struggling with drinking problems.

“Drunk Stupidity”

“He’s come to the conclusion that it (alcohol) just isn’t for him because he can’t moderate,” Boddice said.

Judge Byrne said it was clear that Kornaus had not considered the consequences of his actions at the time, but added that “you have to accept the bottom line.”

“That was drunk stupidity. A few moments of madness led to bad results,” he said.

“You’re going to need some help with your alcohol… if you don’t, I suspect you’ll keep coming back to places like this.”

Kornaus pleaded guilty to five charges Tuesday, including malicious damage.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, 18 months of which was suspended with two years of probation.

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James Brien

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