Generic Rockhampton Court.   Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Generic Rockhampton Court. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK270716ccourt3

Hero's actions revealed during arson trial

A YOUNG woman accused of setting fire to her nan's house in 2017 has pointed the finger at a former boyfriend for the crime.

Ladice Jade Maree Carter pleaded not guilty in Rockhampton District Court yesterday to one count of arson.

Prosecutor Will Slack said the Crown alleged that Ms Carter lit the fire that destroyed the back bedroom of a rental property in Berserker St on August 6, 2017, where she lived with her "Nan,'' Marie Kenny.

He said it was also alleged that Ms Carter lit two molotov cocktails (fire bombs) found in Mrs Kenny's backyard three nights earlier.

However, it was revealed during cross-examination of Crown witnesses by defence barrister Jordan Ahlstrand that Carter had pointed the finger at a former boyfriend as being the person who lit both fires.

That male - Cobi Cox - was 17 at the time of the fires.

He vehemently denied the allegations while giving testimony yesterday, saying he was at home playing computer games and sleeping both nights and had never been to the Berserker St house later than 6pm.

He also denied remaining friends with Ms Carter after they broke up in late July 2017.

Mrs Kenny discovered that a turpentine bottle she kept under her kitchen sink was missing after the discovery of the molotov cocktails.

"She said the intention (of the molotov cocktails) was that you were going to be stupid and throw them at each other,” Mr Ahlstrand said to Mr Cox.

The court heard testimony from Carter's stepgrandfather John Kenny, who said he was shaken awake and they yelled at him about a fire in the house, so he quickly got out of bed and followed the smoke to the back room.

"I couldn't see the fire exactly, so I opened the door,” Mr Kenny said.

"The heat was unreal ... very acrid smoke.

"I couldn't see a thing after opening the door.”

He said the next thing he recalled was someone grabbing him and helping him get out.

That hero was neighbour Zac Harmsworth, who Mr Ahlstrand commended for his actions that night by saying what he did was "brave and diligent”.

The court heard Mr Harmsworth's father said he smelt smoke so Zac went outside to investigate and could see smoke coming from the back of his neighbours' house.

Mr Harmsworth said he could hear Ms Carter and Mrs Kenny yelling for help.

"We rushed over and tried to get through the front door, but we couldn't get through - it was locked,” he said.

Mr Harmsworth said he then went around the back, reached through a latched door to unlock it and entered the building.

He said the screen door was open so he went straight upstairs and was "confronted by smoke”.

Mr Harmsworth said he went to unlock the front door to find it had been opened and Mrs Kenny standing on the front veranda.

He said she asked him to get "Pop'' - who he found at the door of the back bedroom.

"I opened the door to see how big the fire was ... there was too much smoke to see,” Mr Harmsworth said.

He said he grabbed a cushion from the loungeroom to put over his face and went to Mr Kenny's aid.

Mr Harmsworth said he also stopped Ms Carter from going back in the house numerous times, as did his sister.

The court heard Ms Carter had a puppy that died in the fire.

The trial continues.



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