Accused home torcher on new charges

DETECTIVES have laid more charges against a North Tamworth man accused of lighting his house on fire to claim insurance.

Paul Anthony Bolger, 50, was charged with four new offences stemming from a suspicious blaze at his Johnston St home on April 2 last year, along with two offences relating to a suspicious fire at the same house less than a month before.

Bolger will fight the charges after pleading not guilty when he fronted Tamworth Local Court yesterday.

The offences – damage property by fire or explosive dishonestly for gain, maliciously damage property by fore or explosive and two counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception – carry up to 14 years’ jail if he’s convicted.

Detectives will allege Bolger torched the already fire-damaged house on April 2 as part of an elaborate plan to claim insurance money.

One of the offences allegedly covers a door at the neighbouring St Andrews Retirement Village, after the fire spread and caused heat damage to a resident’s room. 

In court yesterday the prosecution sought an adjournment to deliver a fresh brief of evidence relating to the new charges.

The court was told covert surveillance will form part of the case against Bolger, as will evidence from fire experts on the exact cause of the blazes.

Prosecutor Sergeant Cynthia Donovan also sought to amend some of the original charges to marry up with evidence already in the brief.

“There is additional material ... on the ongoing conduct of the defendant. It is there, it is announced (in the brief),” she said.

But Bolger’s barrister Harry Maarraoui objected to the changes.

“The problem with sequence two is the blow-out in dates ... because that really changes the game,” he said.

Instead Mr Maarraoui asked for all charges to be suspended.

“They form an interconnected series of events, I’d be asking all charges be stayed,” he told the court.

“We say that this is an abuse ... in terms of police laying further charges.”

Magistrate Daphne Kok said a permanent stay application was “premature” without a brief of evidence.

She has ordered investigators to serve the material before the case returns to court on March 31.

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