News

Coronial investigation underway into suspicious fires

CLOSE to 10 suspicious structural fires started in South Grafton in the past six months are under investigation, as police continue to throw resources at the problem.

Since August last year, four houses and buildings on Melaleuca Wy, Spring St and Toona Wy have been destroyed, while houses on Spring St, Peppermint Pl, McFarlane St and Maxwell Ave suffered extensive damages.

One building on Spring St was damaged in a suspicious fire a week before it was burnt to the ground on November 7.

Coffs/Clarence crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said at least five of the fires under investigation were Department of Housing residences.

"These fires are subject to a coronial report, with them all being investigated by Grafton detectives," he said.

"We have committed a significant amount of resources to the issue, with police actively patrolling and targeting the South Grafton area."

Det Insp Jameson said as a result of one investigation, a 13-year-old South Grafton boy was currently before the children's court system charged with arson-related offences including entering a building with the intent to commit an indictable offence, possessing an article with intent to destroy or damage and aggravated break and enter with intent in company.

It is the first recent result in what is "not an easy" type of crime to investigate, according to NSW property crime squad detective inspector Ian McNab, who noted the fact that tangible evidence was often burnt brought additional challenges.

But finding the cause of deliberately lit fires is just a matter of investigation, Inspector McNab says.

A typical investigation starts with forensic services, who work closely with the Rural Fire Service and NSW Fire and Rescue to determine a cause. Dogs trained to sniff out accelerants are also used at times.

"The longer the fire goes, the less physical evidence you have to work with, but experts can normally identify the cause and start of a fire," Insp McNab said.

"From there, it's pretty much traditional policing - interviewing people, canvassing areas, identifying suspects and working from there."

Insp McNab said there were a myriad reasons why people started fires, from revenge attacks to squatters lighting fires inside for warmth.

"There's certainly many reasons people may light fires; it could be juveniles just causing damage, while others in public housing might want a better home," he said.

"We always look at motive because that can give an idea of the suspect ... it just depends on the circumstances and there are quite a number of factors."

Insp McNab said it was also not an uncommon occurrence throughout NSW where people set a house alight after being evicted. The property crime squad is not usually brought into these matters unless it results in injury or death.

Which is something Insp Jameson wants to avoid.

"It is now incumbent on the community to join us in trying to make South Grafton a safer place by reporting crime before or when it occurs," he said.

"Their help could not only save property but also a life."

Phone Grafton police on 6642 0222 or CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

Topics:  grafton police house fire



Hello? Hello?! Mobile outage left users offline for hours

Some customers were left on hold of up to 40 minutes.

Caroona evacuated after microwave fire

About 30 residents evacuated after unusual smell triggered alarm

"Eco-cretins" sabotage shark nets, risk swimmers' lives

A blacktip shark caught in a shark net at the end of last year.

Since 2015, there have been 22 shark attacks in New South Wales.

Local Partners

Book 'em, kiddo: Sale attracts bumper crowd

Whoever said books were passe would eat those words if they were at the Maclean Bowling Club on Saturday.


Artist program to link to gallery theme

VALUABLE STINT: Indigenous artist Karla Dickens at work in Grafton Regional Gallery's studio during her 2010 artist's residency.

Gallery encouraging indigenous artists to take up residency offer

See the historical heritage horses

OPEN DAY: Enjoy a day out learning or finding your next dream horse from the Guy Fawkes River National Park.

Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association Inc. open day.

7 things to do this weekend

The Maclean Rotary Book Sale is on this weekend and always attracts a big crowd of buyers.

Great places to spend some time

Fresh faces: NCIS gets a shake up with new cast members

The new cast of NCIS, from left, Rocky Carroll, Pauley Perrette, Sean Murray, David McCallum, Brian Dietzen, Wilmer Valderrama, Emily Wickersham, Mark Harmon, Duane Henry and Jennifer Esposito.

THREE new characters join naval drama for season 14.

First the Onesie, now an Xbox One S inflatable controller

Fancy an inflatable Xbox One S controller?

Inflatable controller 'perfect sidekick' for Australia Day party

Sarah Harris: Here’s what Amber Sherlock should’ve done

Studio 10 and Shark Tank presenter Sarah Harris.

STUDIO 10 host says Sherlock could’ve avoided the subsequent uproar.

Amber Heard 'smitten' with Elon Musk

Amber Heard

ACTRESS is reportedly excited about going public with new boyfriend

Garden piece wins people's choice gong

PEOPLE'S FAVOURITE: 2016 JADA finalist Jane Grealy with her drawing Maria's Garden From The Back, which proved the most popular with gallery visitors during the exhibition.

Gallery visitors have their say on artworks

New doco argues ‘OJ Simpson is innocent, and I can prove it’

O.J. Simpson

NEW documentary series claims to have found “missing evidence".

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Pat Rafter's $18m Coast home proves hot property

PAT'S PAD: The Sunshine Beach home of tennis ace Pat rafter is on the market for a record price.

"It's a record for our company and for the Sunshine Coast.''

INTERACTIVE MAP: Which Northern Rivers towns boomed in 2016?

BOOM TOWNS: While Ballina properties continued to attract top dollar in 2016, it was areas to the south that experienced price hikes, including Wardell, Evans Head and Woodburn.

Click on our map to find the median sale price in your town

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!