Sat, 5 September 2015
Last Updated: Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10am
Solomon Star
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Court gives time for parties to sort charges

Time has been given for Prosecutions and Defence Counsels to negotiate the charges involving the man who allegedly attempted to burn down the Pacific Casino Hotel.

A pre-trial conference was held yesterday on the charge of arson and wilful & unlawful damage charge against Tommy Leong.

This was after prosecution maintained the two charges following the negotiations between the prosecution and the defence counsels.

During the pre-trial conference, Public Solicitor’s Lawyer Lazarus Kwaiga told the court his client will change his plea to the unlawful & wilful damage charge.

Leong had already entered not guilty plea to the two charges against him.

Mr Kwaiga told the court that if prosecution amended the particulars of the charge to specify the door to which room he broke then his client will take his plea.

In relation to the arson charge, Mr Kwaiga said the charge of arson is setting fire to a building.

He said they are disputing the arson charge because according to the charge, he set fire to a whole building.

He suggested if the charge could be amended as his client has no intention to set fire to the whole building.

Public Prosecutor Nelson Dhita when presenting the allegations, told the court the accused set fire to the beddings in room 118 and then went on to the storage rooms where he burnt the linens and everything in that room.

He said Leong burnt down the materials in the hotel rooms with the intention to burn down the hotel building.

Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi however told Mr Dhita there are too many acts for a single arson charge.

Dhita told her there was only one arson charge because of the fact that it was in the same building to which Ms Taeburi said it is wrong to charge a person for one charge for two acts.

When asked as to which arson allegations, he would be referring to; Mr Dhita said the one in room 118.

Following the pre-trial hearing Ms Taeburi told both counsels that she thinks there is room for negotiations.

She therefore gave time for both counsels to discuss and for prosecution to also amend the particular of the wilful & unlawful damage charge.

The matter was adjourned to July 9.

Ms Taeburi told both counsels that if they can’t come up with resolutions by then, a date will then be fixed for trial.

The son of the hotel owner Patrick Leong was accused of setting fire to the beddings in the hotel room and also allegedly damaged doors of the Pacific Casino apartment.

Police alleged he was unhappy on the day of the incident.

The alleged incident occurred on the morning of 8 May, 2015.

By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN

 


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