FA­MOUS AIR­LIE BUILD­ING IN FLAMES

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ash­ley Pill­hofer and Monique Pre­ston

A LENGTHY list of crim­i­nal con­vic­tions span­ning four states will keep al­leged ar­son­ist Beau Cole Ruther­ford be­hind bars un­til his next court ap­pear­ance.

The 22-year-old faced Mackay Mag­is­trates Court on Mon­day on one count of ar­son and one of con­tra­ven­ing di­rec­tion of po­lice in re­la­tion to a fire on Fri­day night, which de­stroyed the for­mer No­mads Car­a­van Park re­cep­tion build­ing and ser­vice sta­tion in Air­lie Beach.

Ruther­ford, who is from the NSW Cen­tral Coast town of Lake Mun­morah, was re­fused bail, based on his his­tory of not at­tend­ing court ap­pear­ances.

The fire, which po­lice were alerted to at 11.40pm, gut­ted the build­ing in Air­lie Beach’s main street which had re­mained un­oc­cu­pied since Cy­clone Deb­bie in March last year.

The build­ing was fully en­gulfed by flames when Queens­land Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices fire­fight­ers from Air­lie Beach and Proser­pine ar­rived.

Fire­fight­ers worked into the night to ex­tin­guish the blaze, and the main street was closed off to traf­fic dur­ing this time.

De­fence so­lic­i­tor Rosie Varley, of Le­gal Aid, said her client had told her he was not in­volved with the fire and be­cause of this it would be “un­just” to deny him bail.

Ms Varley said the pros­e­cu­tion’s case re­lied on “cir­cum­stan­tial” CCTV ev­i­dence.

“(Ruther­ford) does ac­cept he was in the area when this of­fence oc­curred... he ac­cepts that he may be in the CCTV footage,” Ms Varley said.

“At this point in time... the only ev­i­dence link­ing my client to the of­fence is him be­ing near the vicin­ity where the of­fence oc­curred.”

The pros­e­cu­tion said bail should be de­nied con­sid­er­ing Ruther­ford was “at large” af­ter not at­tend­ing a Bris­bane court ap­pear­ance, where he was charged with as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing bod­ily harm last week.

Cit­ing 10 pre­vi­ous fail­ures to ap­pear on charges from New South Wales courts, the pros­e­cu­tion said Mackay Mag­is­trate Mark Nolan should con­sider this when he de­cided on the bail ap­pli­ca­tion.

Mr Nolan told Ruther­ford his his­tory of not at­tend­ing court ap­pear­ances meant he would be de­nied bail.

“I be­lieve there is noth­ing I can do by way of con­di­tions of bail to mit­i­gate against the like­li­hood of you not turn­ing up to court,” Mr Nolan said.

“In light of your his­tory of fail­ing to ap­pear in Queens­land and in­ter­state... bail is re­fused.”

Ruther­ford was re­manded in cus­tody to reap­pear in court on Novem­ber 12.

PHO­TOS: MONIQUE PRE­STON

WA­TER NEEDED: QFES fire­fight­ers work to put out the fire at the for­mer No­mads Car­a­van Park re­cep­tion build­ing and ser­vice sta­tion in Air­lie Beach overnight Fri­day.

PHOTO: HAY­DEN ROSS

Flames en­gulf the build­ing.

QFES fire­fight­ers put wa­ter on the build­ing.

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