Arson suspect denies act

A young father of Tanoliu village in North of Efate has remained firm that he was not involved in the burning down of a natangura house that was the reception of the Havannah Beach and Boat Club in June 2017.

The father of one was charged with one count of arson contrary to section 134(1) of the Penal Code Act (CAP 135) which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Yesterday morning prosecution presented the case before Justice David Chetwynd and brought in two witnesses to testify.

The first witness was the complainant in the case and was the de facto wife of the defendant. She informed the court that on June 25, 2017 the suspect went to Havannah Beach and Boat Club where she used to be an employer and told her to follow him home.

She refused and he assaulted her and stated that he would burn down the reception house.

At around 3am or 4am on June 26, 2018 the reception house was set on fire.

In his testimony, the accused told the court that he did not burn the reception house. He agreed that he assaulted his partner and said the words to effect that he would burn the “house” but he never did what he said.

He said after leaving the Havannah Beach and Boat Club premises on June 25, he drunk beer with a friend of his, and later was joined by another friend before he went to bed at around 3am.

Both counsels presented their submissions yesterday. Prosecution said they were able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the young father torched the reception house based on two elements.

Firstly, that the man unlawfully and willfully burned down the house as he said himself that he would burn down the house and hours before the incident occurred and that the man told his de facto wife over the phone two days after the incident, that he burnt the reception house. The accused admitted in court that the property belongs to a Johnathan which was the second element.

The defense submitted that the accused should be acquitted of the charge as there was no evidence to prove that the man did set fire on the thatched house.

Justice Chetwynd will make his decision on the case this morning.

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