Do you remember the man who owned a bouncy castle company and got some blokes to throw Molotov cocktails on five of his competitors’ factories in Melbourne and Warragul a few years ago? Well, the blazed bandit is back in court and shit has well and truly hit the fan.

If you don’t remember the specifics, the arsonists that Awesome Party Hire owner James Balcombe hired committed a total of 10 arson attacks from late 2016 to early 2017. This summer will forever be remembered as a truly dark era for any snotty children who wanted to upstage their friends by having a bouncy castle at their birthday party.

Fortunately most of the attacks flopped except for one one blaze which, according to The Age, incinerated more than $1 million of property.

It wasn’t just bouncy castles that innocently suffered; a mechanical bull, merry-go-round and some go-karts also met a tragically torched demise.

Who would have thought the Victorian party-hire industry would fall victim to a plot line that would be seen as too absurd for The Sopranos.

Balcombe first appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in 2018 and then went on the run for a year (more on that later) before being arrested once again. He pleaded guilty to 11 counts of conspiracy to commit arson in 2021 and appeared in court again this week for a plea hearing.

The court heard Balcombe told another business owner that he was out for burning, bouncy blood. My brother in Christ did not play it cool.

“He told them he wanted to be number one and he didn’t care what happened to the others,” prosecutor Nick Batten said:

Bro, say less.

The prosecutor also said Balcombe gave his shopping list of businesses to burn to a former employee, Craig Anderson, and two other guys. He even fanged them $2000 for every competitor they firebombed, like some sort of fire-obsessed tooth fairy. And then he micromanaged his arsonists, checking how their fire attacks were going by perusing the Country Fire Authority — Snapchat maps for fire —website.

There is obviously nothing good about this story of a man ruining innocent people’s businesses because he was so desperate to become the godfather of the bouncy castle industry.

However, I’m obsessed with the fact he ran away to Perth after he was initially arrested in 2018. He lived a new life under the alias “Paul Johnson” and wore a wig and a long beard as a disguise. This Gandalf-ass mf had the absolute gall to run another party hire business and he even made fake postage stamps to boot.

I can’t believe my hometown harboured a fugitive. Don Bouncy Castle Arson.