ACT News


Bail refused for man who allegedly set flat on fire

AN ALLEGED arsonist accused of causing $100,000 of damage during a total fire ban on Friday was refused bail because he posed too big a threat to the community during ''catastrophic'' fire conditions, the ACT Magistrates court heard on Saturday.

Andrew Haigh, 41, was charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to his own unit on the ground floor of the Stuart Flats in Griffith.

Constable Amanda Woods told the court two of the man's neighbours told police he had knocked on their doors on Thursday and said he would ''set the place on fire''. She said when police arrived the unit was well alight and initial police and fire brigade investigations showed the fire was deliberately lit with three fires set throughout the two-bedroom unit.

The Light Street unit, owned by the ACT government, was destroyed. The blaze did not spread to units above and alongside but 30 residents from the block were evacuated at 1.20am on Friday.

Ms Woods told the court police picked up Mr Haigh at the Canberra Hospital and said the doctor who interviewed him found he was not suffering a ''psychotic episode''.

Mr Haigh's defence lawyer said his client was schizophrenic and was upset because his medication, some CDs and a wallet were stolen from his apartment. He said his client sought bail and could stay with his father or sister in the ACT.

But Mr Haigh's sister was in court and indicated she did not want her brother released into her care. No plea was entered.

Ms Woods told the court Mr Haigh had an extensive criminal history and eight warrants were outstanding for his arrest in Queensland and New South Wales for theft and other matters.

In refusing bail Magistrate Beth Campbell said she was ''not dealing with the defendant in a vacuum'', and that there was a ''likelihood he may commit another offence'' with potentially disastrous consequences for the Canberra community during extreme fire danger weather.