October 23, 2009

Guilty verdict on cemetery arson

A West Coast man has been convicted of setting alight a shed and bamboo plant at the Bromley Cemetery, after a retrial in the Christchurch District Court.

The jury reached an 11-1 majority verdict at the end of the two-day trial of Samuel Gerald Mort, aged 30, who had travelled to Christchurch for the trial after a jury failed to agree on a verdict at his first trial in September. Two other arson charges were dismissed at the first trial.

The blaze occurred early on January 18. Mort admitted he was in the area, where he was spoken to by the police, but denied setting any fires. He had phoned 111 to report a fire and then stayed to watch the firefighters put out the blaze.

Bridget Ayrey appeared for Mort and Marcus Zintl appeared for the crown, at the trial before Judge Jane Farish.

After the guilty verdict, Mort was remanded for sentence in Greymouth next month.