Man facing lengthy jail term if convicted over house fire
A man charged with setting a Myocum home on fire, causing a destructive blaze that killed a pet dog, could now face up to 25 years behind bars if convicted.
Mullumbimby man Isaac Lehane, 25, was charged in November last year after a police investigation into a fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday, September 17, 2019.
Police will allege Mr Lehane set a fire that destroyed a home on Tyagarah Rd in Myocum.
Mr Lehane, who faced Byron Bay Local Court on Monday, has not yet entered any formal pleas.
The court heard the accused had been considered for the Magistrate's Early Referral into Treatment program, but he is no longer eligible for this program because he is now facing a more serious, strictly indictable, charge.
Mr Lehane was originally charged with a single count of damaging property by fire with intent to injure.
But police have since laid a more serious charge of destroying or damaging property with intent to endanger life.
This offence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment, compared to 14 years with the original charge.
Magistrate Karen Stafford said a brief of evidence had been due on January 11.
Defence solicitor Rennie Anderson said the brief was received on December 23, but police prosecutor Sergeant Chris Martin said some pieces of evidence were still outstanding.
He said the DPP had not indicated how much extra time they would need for those items to be finalised.
Magistrate Karen Stafford adjourned the case to April 19.
The remainder of the brief is due to be served on the defence by that day.
Mr Lehane remains on bail.
"Mr Lehane I know MERIT wanted to see you but where you've got a serious charge like that one (they) can't help you," Ms Stafford said.
"MERIT isn't available when it's a strictly indictable charge."