Nurse charged with mur­der in se­niors’ home fire

Ottawa Citizen - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY • A male nurse was charged Fri­day with mul­ti­ple counts of mur­der af­ter a fierce fire tore through the Syd­ney nurs­ing home where he worked and as the death toll from the tragedy climbed to five, po­lice said.

The 35-year-old, who had not worked long at the home, was re­fused bail and was due to face court later in the day.

Hundreds of fire­fight­ers, po­lice and paramedics raced to the Quak­ers Hill Nurs­ing Home in the city’s west to tackle the blaze on Thurs­day.

Three el­derly res­i­dents were de­clared dead at the scene, a fourth died overnight and a fifth Fri­day, po- lice said. Around 30 oth­ers re­main in hos­pi­tal, some in se­ri­ous con­di­tion with se­vere burns.

Po­lice had been treat­ing the in­ci­dent as sus­pi­cious af­ter it emerged that the fire was be­lieved to have bro­ken out in two sep­a­rate wings of the fa­cil­ity.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Will­ing, who is lead­ing the case, said po­lice acted on in­for­ma­tion they re­ceived af­ter mak­ing an ap­peal.

Will­ing added that the sus­pect, who was a reg­is­tered nurse, had only been work­ing at the home for a short time, but he would not com­ment on the mo­tive or give any other in­for­ma­tion about him.

Fire­fight­ers and po­lice evac­u­ated nearly 90 dis­ori­en­tated and frail peo­ple, some blind or suf­fer­ing de­men­tia, as their home burned down.

Re­ports said a rear ward was cut off when a fire door closed to stop the flames spread­ing, and this was where the first three vic­tims died, most likely from smoke in­hala­tion.

Will­ing said it had been a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one con­cerned. “Ev­ery­one has been af­fected by this tragic set of cir­cum­stances,” he said.

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