Australia — LEGAL action against the man cleared of starting the Roleystone and Kelmscott bushfires last year is forging ahead with dozens of those suing him for damages appearing in court today for a civil hearing.
Thirty-two residents who lost their homes or had their houses badly damaged in the devastating fires are taking civil action against Robert James Stevens, the off-duty police officer who was accused of starting the blaze with his angle grinder.
The thirty-two residents are seeking damages of about $10 million.
During a brief hearing in the Supreme Court this morning lawyer Terry Clavey, representing the thirty-two residents, said the statement of claim for damages against Mr Stevens was lodged about four weeks ago.
But he said a defence statement on behalf of Mr Stevens had not yet been filed.
We need to know what is in dispute, Mr Clavey told the court.
Registrar Danielle Davies made an order that Mr Stevens lawyers lodge their defence on the matter on or before April 11 and adjourned the case until April 19.
After the hearing Mr Clavey said the amount being sought by the thirty-two residents could exceed $10 million.
About twenty of the residents taking part in the legal action as well as Mr Stevens were in court this morning for the hearing.
Criminal charges in relation to the fire against Mr Stevens, 57, were dropped in September on a legal technicality.