TWO men and a woman have been denied bail, accused of sparking fires to avoid being captured by police during a wild crime spree.
William John Abra and Abigail Joyce Lazar will remain behind bars until mid-January, after they were refused bail in Armidale Local Court on Friday on robbery, fire and stolen car charges.
Their 38-year-old co-accused faces a raft of offences and will front court on Saturday, after he was released from hospital.
Lazar, 29, and the third man allegedly hid in a dam near Bundarra on Thursday to seek shelter from the out-of-control fire that they allegedly lit, while attempting to flee police.
It all started when highway patrol police allegedly detected the Holden Commodore speeding through Bundarra about 9.50am.
When the car, with the trio inside, failed to stop, police initiated a pursuit.
Police called for back-up at 9.55am when the Commodore turned off into the Cameron's Creek area, and the chase ended when they struck rough terrain.
Detectives, extra police as well as rural crime officers from Inverell and Armidale were deployed to the area in a bid to capture the suspects. They were backed by an RFS helicopter which was alerted to the fires and PolAir - the police fixed air wing from Sydney.
Police allege the trio dumped the Holden on a nearby property and fled.
They then allegedly confronted a 57-year-old woman and a 31-year-old woman, along with a young child, on their property at knifepoint, robbing them of another knife, cash, keys and a Toyota Prado.
The third man alleged to have been driving the car in the police chase and who allegedly set fires to avoid capture has been released from #Armidale hospital and has now been charged with a raft of offences. It comes as his two co-accused fronted court this afternoon https://t.co/RmB1Cel5I8— Breanna Chillingworth (@breannachill) November 22, 2019
The trio then allegedly stole the car and took off. When they sighted police, they then allegedly fled through a neighbouring property, damaging gates and fences as police chased them.
They crashed the Toyota in bushland, in rough terrain, where it burst into flames, police said.
"The offenders set off on foot, and police pursued them on foot," New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy said.
It's alleged one of the male offenders set a number of other fires in an effort to prevent police apprehending them.New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy
"It's alleged one of the male offenders set a number of other fires in an effort to prevent police apprehending them.
"Their activity was tracked not only by police on the ground but by an RFS helicopter, which then resulted in the first male being arrested on a Kingstown property at approximately 1.30pm."
The major police operation continued and Detective Joy said further aerial surveillance tracked the other suspects to a nearby dam.
"Police located another two, sheltering in a dam, at about 3.20pm where were they were arrested, sheltering from the fire," Detective Joy said.
"The RFS responded in terms of the fires, and observation, and were communicating with police on the ground, and we had PolAir deployed from Sydney and they assisted with the search."
Abra was charged with robbery while armed with offensive weapon; being carried in stolen car; and two counts of intentionally causing a fire and being reckless to its spread.
Lazar was charged with robbery while armed with offensive weapon; and being carried in a stolen car.
If convicted, the pair face a maximum of 21 years imprisonment.
Late on Friday, detectives charged the third man with robbery and stolen car offences.
Police said all three were suffering from dehydration, exposure and other minor injuries suffered in the chase and were treated by paramedics in custody. The older man was then taken to hospital for further treatment.
Late on Friday, the RFS said the fires were more than 288 hectares in size and being controlled by firefighters.