A NORTH Tamworth man accused of lighting his house on fire to claim insurance has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Paul Anthony Bolger, 50, appeared for the first time in Tamworth Local Court yesterday charged with dishonestly for gain damage property by fire, and dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.
His solicitor entered the pleas of not guilty to both offences on behalf of his client before asking for a hearing date to be set.
Bolger remained silent throughout the brief proceedings yesterday, dressed in a pink collared shirt with a dark suit.
Magistrate Roger Prowse ordered that a brief of evidence be served by October 8, with the case set down for hearing in Tamworth Local Court on October 14.
Bolger was arrested by Strike Force Cobac detectives and charged with the two offences after a fire severely damaged a Johnston St home in North Tamworth in March.
Detectives allege Bolger caused the damage to the home for financial gain.
About 10.30pm on March 16, fire crews were called to the home after a blaze broke out in a bedroom and spread to the hall and another room.
Fire crews managed to stop the fire spreading, but much of the house also sustained smoke and water damage.
One man was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
The fire was deemed an accident and didn’t come under police suspicion until a second suspicious blaze broke out on April 2.
Neighbouring residents reported seeing flames leaping from the same home and called triple-0. The blaze took hold and spread to the roof before destroying the house.
Police said it was a miracle no one was injured, after the fire crept towards the neighbouring St Andrews Retirement Home.
Bolger remains on bail.