Chris Johnston secures acquittal of Brighton man accused of arson with intent to endanger life, arson reckless as to whether life was endangered and arson.

Following a suspicious fire in a tool hire shop beneath residential premises, the Fire Service quickly established that the lighting of a box of equipment together with a suspected accelerant was deliberate and that the accused was the only person in the premises at the time who could have done it. Residents above the premises alerted the accused to the smoke and alarm going off and found him acting suspiciously within the locked shop.

In the face of seemingly incontrovertible scientific and phone evidence that showed his sole participation in setting the fire, the defence was forced to submit that accidental cause could not be ruled out. Following a second trial, when a jury was discharged, the accused was cleared within one hour of jury deliberations. Had he been convicted he would have faced a substantial term of imprisonment.

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