Churchill arson accused ‘attacked in custody’

Churchill arson accused ‘attacked in custody’

31 May 2010

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Australia — A man accused of lighting a deadly bushfire on Black Saturday in Churchill has twice been attacked in custody, his lawyer claims.

A six-week committal hearing for the 40-year-old man began in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today, where he is facing 191 charges.

The court heard the man, whose name is suppressed, has a severe intellectual disability.

His lawyer, David Sexton, asked the magistrate to suppress his client’s name citing concerns for his safety in custody.

Magistrate Simon Garnett issued an interim suppression order and adjourned the hearing until Wednesday.

The man faces 191 charges including one of recklessly causing a bushfire, 10 of arson causing death, 20 of recklessly causing serious injury and more than 100 of arson causing damage to property.

The magistrate told the court last he and members of the prosecution and defence had conducted a viewing of the Latrobe Valley site – where the fire allegedly started – on Friday.

Eleven people were killed in the Churchill fires.

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