News

Three men to testify against mate in arson case

ARSON ATTACK: A mobile dental van destroyed in a fire at the Gatton State School.
ARSON ATTACK: A mobile dental van destroyed in a fire at the Gatton State School. Tom Threadingham

A NIGHT on the town that ended with a dental van burnt to the ground, a school burnt and two cars dented has already seen two men jailed, and a third released on parole.

A fourth man, Zachary Dean Clark, has pleaded not guilty at the Ipswich District Court to two counts of arson and two counts of wilful damage, and guilty to two counts of burglary from the same incident.

The court heard yesterday the three men already sentenced: BJ Alan Denton, Christopher Bernard Walker and Corey Andrew McCutcheon, will testify as witnesses for the prosecution.

The court heard yesterday from BJ Alan Denton who was granted immediate release on parole for his part in the offending in December last year.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Le Grand said on the night of October 30, 2012, the four had been drinking at the Gatton house where Denton lived. They left the house to go to McDonald's.

They were sitting in the car park eating when Denton said Clark pointed out a blue Ford, belonging to the assistant manager of the McDonald's, said he had a problem with the woman and urged them to smash the car.

The court was shown CCTV footage of Walker kicking the car and McCutcheon throwing a beer bottle at it. The four fled the car park and entered the Gatton School.

In cross examination, however, it emerged Denton had told police at the time Walker had said whose car it was and then attacked it. Denton said he had lied to police at the time and was telling the court the truth.

In the school they approached a school block where Clark and McCutcheon broke in and stole a number of laptops. Clark took them to an oval where he hid them.

The court heard they then found a dental van which Walker, McCutcheon and Denton broke into through a vent on its roof. They all entered the van, hoping to find drugs and "happy gas".

After failing to find any, McCutcheon said there was too much evidence inside the van and said they had to burn it down. He started a small fire while Walker brought rubbish from a bin and fuelled the fire.

Denton said he and Clark were outside playing with a fire extinguisher. Under cross-examination he told the court he and Clark were in fact trying to put the fire out.

When he was then re-examined by Mr Le Grand, Denton said he was spraying the front outside wall of the van while Clark sprayed around the door of the van.

Denton said when the fire was "out of hand" Clark fled the scene and the others followed. They ended up outside the Gatton fire station where they watched the firefighters battle the fire.

The trial is continuing.

Topics:  arson, editors picks, ipswich district court, wilful damage



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