Man faces court after fire destroys $188k worth of gear
A GOLD Coast man has faced court over the arson of a Tweed Coast property.
Zachariah Blayden, 23, faced Tweed Heads Local Court on Tuesday, charged with intentionally or recklessly damaging property by fire.
Fingal Head man David Smith had allowed his son, Joel, to have a going-away party at their home on the night of March 17 this year.
The property's shed, containing $188,000 worth of commercial fishing equipment, burnt to the ground about 2am the next morning.
Mr Blayden, of Palm Beach, had been Joel Smith's good friend of nine years.
Mr Blayden, who works at a Burleigh Heads restaurant, was among the first at the party that night along with his partner, 30-year-old Lauren Lesser, the court heard.
Police prosecutor Garry Rowe tendered to the court CCTV footage from two of four cameras installed around Mr Smith's home.
The first clip showed to the court featured the group of young adults socialising and dancing around the home's patio area.
A second clip - captured from a camera on the corner of Mr Smith's shed - shows a man, identified as Mr Blayden, enter the shed through a sliding door, then exit a short time later as the light flickers and the camera ceases recording.
"The defendant is seen entering the shed area," Mr Rowe said.
"Shortly afterwards... he exits the shed.
"The shed and its contents ignite and the shed is destroyed."
Mr Blayden's barrister, Peter O'Connor, told Magistrate Michael Dakin while they did not dispute the fire took place they would challenge the argument it was intentionally lit by his client.
"It's conceded that there was a fire which resulted from the actions of the accused," Mr O'Connor said.
But Mr O'Connor said the incident was accidental.
"The fire (was) accidental and... he had no foresight that his actions would lead to those consequences."
Sen Sgt Rowe called nine witnesses to the stand, including David and Joel Smith, Ms Lesser, police and fire investigators.
Senior firefighter Bernard Daly explained his observation of the burn patterns, including a "loose v-pattern" which helped him to determine an apparent point of origin.
Tweed Heads Fire and Rescue Station officer Stephen Sharp said the fire appeared to have burnt "very hot"
"What did strike me as unusual... was the steel cross-beams glowing red on the exterior," he said.
He said the scene was "consistent with their being a point of ignition".
Mr Rowe also presented to the court the recording of a Triple 0 call made by Mr Blayden, in which he repeatedly fails to give the correct address.
When Ms Lesser appeared as a witness, she recalled seeing the accused near the shed as they became aware of the blaze.
David Smith said he had previously never had "any problems" with the accused.
The fisherman of more than 30 years said the blaze, which destroyed many handmade fishing nets and related equipment, had been crippling for his business.
Mr Rowe called the prosecution's final witnesses today and the hearing will continue tomorrow.