Alleged arsonist taken to hospital

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
VideoChurch fire

The man accused of lighting several fires across Bunbury yesterday morning including one at St Marks church has been taken to hospital.

Jonathon Richard Anthony, 29, of no fixed address, was due to appear in Bunbury Magistrates Court this morning, but the court was told he had been taken to Bunbury Hospital while waiting to appear in custody.

Police prosecutor Sgt Karl Rep told Magistrate Brian Mahon that it was believed Mr Anthony had some psychological issues, was refusing to acknowledge anyone and “had to be taken away”.

Mr Anthony is accused of starting a fire at the historic East Bunbury church about 11am yesterday when nearby residents stepped in to douse the flames.

St Marks church was damaged by fire.
Camera IconSt Marks church was damaged by fire. Credit: Stuart McGuckin / South Western Times

Police allege Mr Anthony’s arson spree started half an hour earlier at Adam Road Primary School in South Bunbury where teachers reported a man trying to start several small fires by gathering piles of leaves.

It is alleged Mr Anthony made his way to the church before starting another fire in bushland on the eastern side of Robertson Drive.

Firefighters were kept busy battling the blazes, as smoke blanketed parts of Bunbury.

Firefighters battle the blazes.
Camera IconFirefighters battle the blazes. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

Bunbury Det. Sgt James Gaunt said police saw a man jumping fences in the area.

Mr Anthony is facing one count each of criminal damage by fire and wilfully lighting a fire likely to injure or damage.

Det. Sgt Gaunt praised the quick thinking residents who took action to stop the fire and said the situation could have been worse.

“If it wasn’t for the quick actions of the public ringing in the fires and the quick response by the Bunbury Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, the fire with the wind obviously could have got out of control,” he said.

Firefighters battle the blazes.
Camera IconFirefighters battle the blazes. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

“I’m also seeking some more help and assistance from the public, in relation to anyone that may have seen a male dressed in grey tracksuit pants and a t-shirt in the Robertson Drive/Glen Iris area around 11am.

“If anyone has anything on dash cam for us or anyone has some CCTV – we’ve done some door knocks and left some cards, we’re pretty interested to hear from anyone who may be able to help us.”

In court, Sgt Rep said bail was going to be opposed for Mr Anthony.

Magistrate Mahon remanded Mr Anthony in custody and adjourned the matters for legal advice until Thursday.

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online here.

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