Ar­son sus­pect flees scene of ear­lier blaze

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART ni­cola.ste­

A 19-year-old man was caught by a po­lice dog north of Mata­mata af­ter he re­turned to a house he had al­legedly at­tempted to burn down hours ear­lier.

Po­lice and fire ser­vices were called to a house fire at Jag­ger Rd, Wa­haroa, shortly be­fore 9pm on April 24.

Mata­mata vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers were able to con­tain the dam­age to a small area of the house.

Sergeant Gra­ham McGurk said it was clear the fire had been started in­ten­tion­ally and po­lice had been con­cerned a ‘‘firebug’’ might be op­er­at­ing in the area.

A sec­ond Jag­ger Rd house had been set on fire at least twice and was even­tu­ally burnt down on April 18.

Se­cu­rity was placed at the scene of the lat­est fire for the night un­til in­ves­ti­ga­tions could con­tinue in day­light.

Early in the morn­ing a se­cu­rity guard dis­turbed a man walk­ing in bare feet at the prop­erty, Mr McGurk said.

He took off on foot into sur­round­ing farm­land and a po­lice dog and han­dler were brought from Hamil­ton to help find him.

The dog tracked the man to a lo­cal ad­dress, where the 19-year-old came at the dog with a mal­let.

The dog latched onto the of­fender’s arm and re­strained him un­til po­lice were able to make an ar­rest.

‘‘It was an out­stand­ing piece of po­lice work by Mata­mata, Mor­rinsville and Hamil­ton Po­lice, ’’ Mr McGurk said:

Mata­mata Chief Fire Of­fi­cer Kevin Cur­tis said they were re­lieved the of­fender had been caught.

The man has been charged with three counts of ar­son and has been re­manded in cus­tody to ap­pear in court on May 21.

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