Business owner charged with attempted arson

UPDATE 10.30AM: FINANCIAL difficulty was the motive behind a Walkerston newsagency owner allegedly setting fire to her own business late last month detectives claim.

Detective Inspector Brendan Smith said a Mackay Criminal Investigations Branch and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services probe has led to the arrest of a 55-year-old Devereux Creek woman over the blaze which broke out at newsXpress Walkerston on July 30.

Detective Inspector Smith said the woman, who is involved in the ownership of the Creek Street newsagency, was arrested yesterday.

“We have identified that the fire had human intervention and yesterday we arrested and charged a 55-year-old Devereux Creek woman in relation to attempted arson and attempting to endanger a particular property by fire,” Det Insp Smith said.

“All we know is that at this point it was definitely man made. It is still being determined exactly the cause by our scientific officers but we are quite confident it had no accidental cause.

“Straight away it was clear the fire had no accidental cause. We looked where the motives were and identified a person of interest.

“We are going to allege it is a financial motive, she is involved in the ownership of the newsagency and it will be alleged they were in some sort of financial difficulty and it was an opportunity for her to maybe fix that.”

The Daily Mercury understands the business has been for sale for quite some time.

A fire has broken out at the Walkerston Woolworths complex.

A fire has broken out at the Walkerston Woolworths complex.Aidan Cureton

Det Insp Smith said while luckily the fire was contained quickly by emergency services, it could have been disastrous.

“At this point it is mainly smoke damage, there is some fire damage but that’s why it is attempted arson as opposed to arson as there is no structural damage we have identified. A number of other businesses were affected by smoke and water,” he said.

“I think we are pretty fortunate it didn’t go through the entire complex. You can imagine the damage that could have been done, there are a number of stores there, major retail chains.

“I think the local community is very lucky and we’re very fortunate the local fire brigade were actually having a training day on that day and were able to respond very quickly.”

Det Insp Smith said people going through any sort of difficulty should seek help rather than trying to take matters into their own hands.

“There are plenty of support services out there both from government and non government sectors that can help people in any sort of difficulty. They shouldn’t be taking matters into their own hands, the consequences could have been huge.

“That is a shopping centre, there could have been injured persons and people could have been killed.

“I don’t think she did it for a malicious financial gain, it was more about financial difficulty. I don’t think people who do this sort of thing actually think past themselves and understand the impacts on other store owners and things like that.”

The 55-year-old was was given watch house bail yesterday and will appear in Mackay Magistrates Court on September 4.

Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping Centre

Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping CentreStuart Quinn

INITIAL: A WOMAN has been arrested and charged over the alleged attempted arson of a Walkerston newsagency.

A Queensland Police spokesman confirmed Mackay Police arrested the woman yesterday afternoon in relation to the fire, which engulfed the Creek Street shopping centre newsXpress on the evening of July 30.

“A 55-year-old woman from Devereux Creek has been charged with one count of attempted arson and one count of endangering a particular property by fire,” the spokesman said.

“She has been bailed and is due to appear in Mackay Magistrates Court on September 4.”

Mackay detectives are expected to reveal further details of the investigation and arrest later this morning.

7th Aug 2018 10:47 AM | Updated: 11:45 AM

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