Avenell Heights woman faces blaze

A WOMAN who opened her curtains and was confronted by flames and the strong smell of petrol took the witness stand during a committal hearing yesterday.

Reece Christopher Griffin, 19, of Pecton Place, Avenell Heights, was charged with one count of endangering particular property by fire following an incident at an Elliott Heads Road property on March 29.

Marissa Johnson told Bundaberg Magistrates Court she woke at daybreak and had a short conversation with her daughter, Sharlee Smith, who was Griffin’s former partner and had had a baby with him.

Ms Johnson said she went to warm up a bottle for the baby when she smelt the waft of petrol.

“I thought some-one stole my mower at first, but when I opened the curtains there was a fire at the front of the house. I screamed to get my kids out of the house — I thought the whole house was going to go up,” she said.

Firefighters rushed to the scene after Ms Johnson dialled Triple-0 and police followed.

One of the investigating officers, Senior Constable Gordon Hard, told the court there was a smoulder mark on the steps, burn marks on the grass and a discolouration of the grass where petrol had been poured.

The court was told Ms Smith and Griffin had had a physical altercation in a Bundaberg hotel the night before, after Ms Smith approached the defendant and he got her kicked out of the premises because she was underage.

Snr Const Hard located Griffin at a home in Bonding Street after the incident, the court heard.

Snr Const Hard said the defendant’s singlet, jeans and shoes were later seized and sent for testing.

Petrol was detected on the top of his shoes.

But his hands were also tested and no residue was found.

Griffin, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, was committed to stand trial at the next sitting of Bundaberg District Court.



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