THE court on Tuesday found the son of the owner of the Pacific Casino hotel who allegedly tried to burn the hotel down not guilty of the allegation after a trial.
Tommy Leong was therefore acquitted of the charges of two counts of arson, two counts of attempted arson and four counts of malicious damage.
Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi concluded in her judgment that she found the crown has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
She said the Crown’s case on the arson charges were based substantially on circumstantial evidence.
“No one actually saw who started the fire,” Ms Taeburi said.
Leong was accused of setting fire to and burnt room 118 at the hotel, the stock room, allegedly attempted to burn a plastic pillow and allegedly tried to burn room 407 by setting fire to a mattress.
The Crown also alleged he damaged the doors to the stock room and hotel rooms.
Leong was allegedly unhappy on the morning of 8 May, 2015 when these alleged incidents were said to have occurred.
Ms Taeburi also said there was no direct evidence that the accused broke the doors room 407 and room 9.
In light of attempted arson related to the burning of the plastic pillow, Ms Taeburi stated that she found the accused did lit the pillow using a lighter.
She however, said that alone was not possible to burn the whole building as one of the witnesses said he put out the fire with his bare hands.
“This to me shows that the fire was too small to pose any threat or even any possibility of burning the building.”
Ms Taeburi said she found Leong set fire to the mattress in room 407.
“Although there is no direct evidence from any eye witness, I find on the totality of the evidence in this case, that the accused is the culprit here.
“Like I said before, he has a lighter and has been going around the hotel that morning starting fire in several different places.
“He has the motive to do so,” Ms Taeburi said.
She said it is not as if his mere presence automatically ignites a fire whenever he goes.
“There is a fire whenever he goes in the hotel that morning because he started it by using his lighter.
Ms Taeburi added on that she however, found that his action is not likely to set fire to the hotel.
“I find the possibility or the likelihood of setting fire to the hotel by the accused’s action of setting fire to the mattress in these circumstances as too remote.”
She said the fire is too small as one witness namely Mark stated he had to put out the fire using a pillow.
“This to me indicates the remoteness of the likelihood.
“I also find that the likelihood is even more remote because of the fact that Mark and his girlfriend were inside the room.”
Ms Taeburi added on that she also found that the Crown has not satisfied the element of ‘unlawful’ and found the Crown failed to prove this charge.
She therefore acquitted the accused.
Leong returned to the court yesterday.
This was for the sentencing submission and mitigation in relation to another malicious damage charge in which he pleaded guilty to.
This is relation to the damaging of the stock room door.
Lazarus Kwaiga of L & L Lawyers represents Leong while Margaret Suifa’asia appeared for the Crown.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN