Fire accused not of sound mind: lawyer

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Firefighters work to contain the blaze in December last year.
Camera IconFirefighters work to contain the blaze in December last year. Credit: South Western Times

The lawyer for a man who allegedly sparked two separate fires in Bunbury including one at St Mark’s church says his client will be pleading not guilty due to “unsoundness of mind”.

Jonathon Richard Anthony, 29, must stay at Graylands Hospital as part of his bail conditions after he was arrested moments after the fires on December 10 last year.

Mr Anthony appeared in Bunbury Magistrates Court via video link from the mental health facility on Thursday when his lawyer Michael Joubert tried to have his bail varied so he could live with his mother – a qualified nurse – in Moora.

After Mr Anthony pleaded not guilty to criminal damage by fire and wilfully lighting a fire likely to injure or damage, Mr Joubert said his client had no memory of the incident because he was “catatonic” at the time and was denying the offences because of his unsoundness of mind.

It is alleged Mr Anthony started a blaze at the church, causing $60,000 in damage, before sparking another fire in bushland near Robertson Drive.

In court, Mr Joubert said psychiatric and home detention reports were “very favourable” to Mr Anthony’s release to his mother and argued the facility needed the “space that he occupies”.

He said Mr Anthony was homeless and not taking his medication at the time of the incident, but he was now out of the catatonic state, doing well and his mother was willing and able to look after him.

Magistrate Evan Shackleton said he had several concerns, including a suggestion in the home detention report that if Mr Anthony was to “take off” from the Moora home the response time from the nearest police was three hours.

Magistrate Shackleton also said Mr Anthony appeared to not be disputing what was alleged but rather if he was “sane” and there could be a “danger” if he fell into that state again.

Magistrate Shackleton adjourned Mr Anthony’s pleas and the bail variation application for a further medical assessment.

The matters were adjourned until September 6.

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