ACT News

Alleged cafe arsonist charged with participating in criminal group

A man accused of deliberately torching a cafe in Weston was allegedly part of a criminal group and dealt with $75,000 of dirty money.

A deliberately lit fire gutted the Brierly Street cafe at the Weston shops in March 2014. It was immediately treated as suspicious, and was the second fire at the site in two years.

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Fire at cafe

RAW FOOTAGE: Security camera footage, supplied by ACT Policing, shows a suspect spreading fuel and igniting it at the rear of a cafe in Brierly Street, Weston, on March 13, 2014.

Dramatic CCTV footage shows a man in a hooded jumper smash open one of the cafe's door panels, splash accelerant inside, and set it alight. An alarm was activated, alerting security and the business' owner.

The fire was contained to the cafe but caused considerable damage, police said.

Fire crews and police investigate the alleged arson at the Brierly Street cafe in Weston in March 2014.
Fire crews and police investigate the alleged arson at the Brierly Street cafe in Weston in March 2014. Photo: Jay Cronan

New owners had formally settled on the property just hours earlier, and were due to open the business in a few days time.

Police charged Leo Nicholas Eliadis and bailed him last month on the arson charge.


But Eliadis breached his bail by failing to report to police, and was brought before the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday

Magistrate Maria Doogan formally charged him with setting fire to Brierly's Cafe on March 13, 2014.

Eliadis was also charged with participating in a criminal group between 2013 and 2014, recruiting another to assist in a criminal activity, and dealing in $75,000 that was intended to be used as an "instrument of crime".

A further 11 charges were laid over the use of false identification documents to enable the commissioning of indictable offences.

Eliadis' Legal Aid lawyer told the court his client had accidentally missed a reporting day with police, but had handed himself in the next morning.

He asked the court to change the reporting requirements to enable Eliadis to better meet them.

No further details of his alleged crimes were aired in court.

The March 2014 fire was the second alleged arson at the site of Brierly Street Cafe in two years.

The first occurred in mid-January 2012, when a fire destroyed the kitchen of the then AD's cafe, causing $100,000 in damage.

Eliadis has not been charged with that fire, nor was there any link made between him and the 2012 fire in court.

Ms Doogan expressed some concern that the man had been given police bail for such a serious offence, rather than appearing before the court.

Eliadis will appear again next month.

Brierly's Cafe has since reopened as The Cornerstone Cafe Co.