Volunteer firefighter Mike Richard Holden was on bail and being tracked by an ankle monitor when he allegedly lit 17 large blazes, a court has heard.
Volunteer firefighter Mike Richard Holden was on bail and being tracked by an ankle monitor when he allegedly lit 17 large blazes, a court has heard.

Volunteer firefighter charged with lighting 17 bushfires

A DARWIN River volunteer firefighter accused of lighting multiple large blazes in the Rural Area has faced court charged with 17 counts of causing a bushfire.

Mike Richard Holden, 27, applied for bail in the Darwin Local Court on Wednesday after police raided his home and arrested him on Tuesday.

The court heard Holden was on bail for alleged "serious sex offences" and was wearing an ankle monitor which placed him near the scene of the fires within minutes of them starting between January and September last year.

In making the bail application, Holden's lawyer, Shane McMaster said his client had called some of the fires in and even attended others to fight the blaze.

Mr McMaster said while the typical profile of a bushfire arsonist was a "loner", Holden was actively employed as a mechanic and had been in a relationship during the relevant months.

"He's somebody who doesn't fit that profile in my submission," he said.

Mr McMaster said Holden had no prior criminal record, the case against him was "obviously circumstantial" and his compliance with his bail conditions "barring these allegations, has been very good".

But in opposing bail, prosecutor David Morters SC said there was a "real concern" Holden would reoffend if released again as well as concerns for his safety, citing threatening messages posted to Facebook since his arrest.

In refusing bail, Judge Alan Woodcock said while Holden was a young man with a supportive family he was also charged with "very serious indictable offences", allegedly committed while wearing a tracking device.

Mr Woodcock said if the 33 pages of alleged facts tendered to the court were accurate, the data from the ankle monitor made for a "powerful" prosecution case and the risk of reoffending was of "great concern".

Holden was charged following a major police investigation dubbed "Operation Paringa" and Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Malogorsk earlier told reporters while no houses were destroyed in the fires, there was substantial vegetation damage and some minor property damage was still under investigation.

Holden was remanded in custody and will return to court on February 26.



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