Share house fire accused uses chicken teriyaki defence
A BUNGALOW man who has used a chicken teriyaki defence to explain his whereabouts during a share-house fire told police another resident threatened to burn down the building, a court has heard.
Joshua John Buss was yesterday found not guilty in Cairns District Court for endangering property by fire.
It was alleged he set the fire in the bedroom of Craig Andrew Hartley in their Bunting St share house on June 25 last year.
In a statement to police read to the court, Mr Buss said he saw an agitated Craig Hartley speaking on a mobile phone with the Cairns Hospital mental health unit before the fire.
Mr Buss said he had looked up the mental health unit phone number for Mr Hartley.
He told police he heard Mr Hartley angrily say "I'm going to burn my room and house down".
The defendant told police he then walked to Subway and bought a six-inch chicken teriyaki sub.
He said he was eating the sub when he heard sirens approaching Bunting St.
In his statement, Mr Buss alleged Mr Hartley stole his mobile phone during an earlier exchange.
"He leaned forward and grabbed my phone from the coffee table," Mr Buss told police.
"I was thinking to myself 'why is this happening to me'?"
When confronted about the phone, he said Mr Hartley told him that he sold it in order to buy drugs.
The Crown had alleged Mr Hartley left Mr Buss in his room, after which smoke was seen to pour from a fire on the bed.
"I left Josh in my room to watch TV - I was helping him out because I felt sorry for him; he had a disability," Mr Hartley said.
"I told him to lock up the room before I left there,"
The court heard that Mr Hartley's tin of Zippo lighter fluid had been moved from a shelf to the bed.
"I suggest that you gave a statement to police, you said that you would normally store the lighter fluid on the shelf of the bedroom," defending barrister James Sheridan said.
Mr Hartley said he did not remember the statement as he had a memory problem from an accident he suffered at a younger age.