Crime Files Network

Archive for the ‘ARSON’ Category

A MAN convicted of murdering his parents and then setting them on fire could be given a retrial or even acquitted after key evidence presented by the prosecution about the timing of the victims’ deaths was found to be wrong.

Jeffrey Gilham, 41, is appealing against his conviction for the stabbing murder of his parents, Steven and Helen, in 1993.

The father of three was sentenced to life in prison over the frenzied attack, in which his father was stabbed 28 times and his mother 17 times. Their bodies were then set on fire.

Gilham’s older brother, Christopher, was also killed in the attack and in 1995, Jeffrey pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.

But Gilham has maintained his brother was responsible for murdering their parents and lighting the fire, and that he killed him after walking into the house and discovering what had happened.

In 2009, a Supreme Court jury rejected this claim, accepting the prosecution’s case that Christopher was already dead when the fire was lit and so could not be responsible. This was based on the evidence of the forensic pathologist Christopher Lawrence, who said because the level of carbon monoxide from the fire in Christopher Gilham’s blood was only 6 per cent, he must have died before the fire started.

But in the Criminal Court of Appeal yesterday, the prosecution was forced to concede that Dr Lawrence’s evidence was incorrect and to accept starkly contrasting evidence from the toxicologist Professor David Penney.

In an affidavit read in court, Professor Penney said that Christopher Gilham and his parents had all absorbed ”significant exogenous COHb [carbon monoxide]” meaning that all three were alive when the fire started.

”It is preposterous to assert that … the person died before the fire started,” he said.

Jeffrey Gilham’s barrister, Clive Steirn, SC, pounced on the admission, saying it ”fundamentally undermined a key plank in the Crown case” and called for his client to be acquitted.

The head of the three-judge appeal panel, Justice Peter McClellan, described the evidence as ”stings in the tail” for the Crown case and raised the possibility that Gilham could be entitled to a retrial.

The appeal hearing continues.

A Melbourne youth church leader who raped a 14-year-old girl, poured petrol on her and set her alight has been jailed for 21 years.

Michael Tuano Hermogenes, 25, plied the girl with alcohol before choking her with one of her stockings, raping her, taking photos of her while she was naked and unconscious, then setting her and her house alight to hide his crimes.

She suffered permanent injuries including burns to half her body, amputation of her right toes and spent almost a year in hospital.

Hermogenes pleaded guilty to charges including arson, attempted murder and rape over the attack at the girl’s home in Melbourne’s west in May last year.

He must serve 16 years before he is eligible for parole.

Hermogenes sat in the dock with his head bowed, hands clasped in a praying position.

He showed little other reaction as the sentence was handed down.

Justice Paul Coghlan said Hermogenes’ crimes involved a breach of trust and was satisfied he took alcohol to the girl’s home so he could take sexual advantage of her.

The judge described his photographing of his victim as “bizarre and disgusting”.

Justice Coghlan said the girl spent almost all of the 15th year of her life in hospital as a result of her horrific injuries.

“She will suffer from them for the rest of her life … and will need daily care,” he said.

The judge accepted Hermogenes was remorseful, but was guarded about his rehabilitation prospects.

He said a “very stern” sentence was necessary to deter others from similar crimes.

The sentence takes into account more than a year Hermogenes has served in pre-sentence custody.


Woman’s terror

as gang invades home

Glenda Kwek

May 17, 2011 – 1:04PM

A woman was hit with a baseball bat, sprayed in the face with capsicum and had her car set on fire in a violent home invasion in Sydney’s west last night.

Police said this afternoon the attack at Debby Way, Toongabbie, about 10pm may not have been random and the assailants may have been known to the woman.

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The 51-year-old victim was in the house with a toddler when the gang burst in through the front door.

The woman went to the backyard and tried to hide with the child, police said.

But as she ran to the side of the house, one of the gang members hit her arm with a baseball bat and sprayed capsicum in her face.

A bottle of accelerant was thrown into her 1998-model Holden Commodore sedan and set ablaze, police said.

The attackers then left.

The woman was treated at the house for her injuries, which were not specified, Detective Inspector Ian Woodward of Blacktown police said.

Police did not say if the woman was related to the toddler. There was also no further description of the attackers.

Detective Inspector Woodward said investigators were looking at whether the attack was related to a domestic incident.

But he added that nothing was stolen and police were treating the case as an assault.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the attack “went on for a fair while” – about several hours.

“It started early in the night and [six youths] left and came back in three car loads. It finished when they set fire to the car and smashed all the windows at the front of the house.

“All the neighbours were frightened because the car’s on fire and all the houses are close together. It’s not a nice sight to have in your street.”

A police spokeswoman said it did it not appear there had been other similar attacks on the street in the past.

Investigators appealed for anyone with information to phone Crime Stoppers on             1800 333 000      .

Detainees continue protesting

April 24, 2011

As a protest at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre entered its fifth day, immigration officials have downplayed reports of a mass hunger strike at Western Australia’s Curtin facility.

Three protesters remained on the roof of Villawood detention centre on Easter Sunday afternoon.

Two of them had been there since Wednesday, when a riot involving up to 100 detainees broke out, leaving nine buildings gutted by fire.

Twenty-two of the protesters were earlier this week transferred to Silverwater Correctional Centre and questioned by police.

Officials from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship were waiting to negotiate with the remaining three protesters, but only if they came down from the roof at Villawood, a spokeswoman said.

”We are prepared to meet them,” she said.

Social Justice Network spokesman Jamal Daoud said security staff were not allowing anyone access to the protesters, leaving them without food or water.

”They’re getting water on the roof but they have to come down to get food,” a department spokesman said on Sunday afternoon.

Well known for speaking out on behalf of refugees and detainees, Mr Daoud complained he was handcuffed and forced to kneel after an argument with police on Saturday afternoon at the centre.

He said he was taken to Bankstown police station and later released with a $350 fine.

”The police officers were acting with deep hate, disregard for basic civil rights,” Mr Daoud said.

In Western Australia, Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said a hunger strike and sit-in involving about 300 detainees at Curtin Airbase detention centre, in the state’s remote West Kimberley region, was expected to escalate.

The protest against visitors being prevented from going to the centre over the Easter weekend began on Saturday morning, Mr Rintoul said.

”The asylum seekers are asking that they be allowed to see refugee supporters who have travelled from Perth and other cities to see them over the Easter weekend,” Mr Rintoul said in a statement on Sunday.

The Immigration Department downplayed the claim, saying about 150 Afghan refugees had started a ”peaceful protest” on Saturday afternoon.

”I can confirm that some people skipped a meal but it’s not unusual to do that,” a spokeswoman said.

She added that there was food available at the centre’s canteen, and that snacks like noodles were available in the tea room, which meant some detainees sometimes skipped meals in favour of snacks.

”The centre is calm. There are just some people sitting in the outdoor recreation area at the centre,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Australia Greens have urged the federal government to increase its refugee intake by about 50 per cent.

Greens federal MP Adam Bandt suggested the government lift the number of refugees accepted into Australia to 20,000 a year.

”Our view is that we should have a quick and humane process and, of course, if someone is found not to be a refugee or we have reached our limit, then we should, of course, return them safely, provided it is within our legal obligations,” Mr Bandt told the Ten Network on Sunday.

He recommended that asylum-seeker applications be processed within 30 days.

”It gives enough time for security and health checks,” he said.


Body found in burnt-out car

Stephanie Gardiner
March 25, 2011 – 2:17PM

A body has been found in a burnt-out car on the NSW north coast, police say.

Fire crews were called to the car park at Iluka Beach about 9am after reports of a car on fire, a police spokeswoman said.

The fire was extinguished and a body was found inside, she said.

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A woman who works in the area said she saw smoke while she was out walking this morning.

“I just saw smoke coming from that direction and I didn’t think anything of it,” she said.

“I just thought it was in the forest.”

A crime scene has been set up and police are investigating

Wheelchair-bound woman

dead after being set on fire:


Stephanie Gardiner

February 15, 2011

Wheelchair-bound woman set on fire

Wheelchair-bound woman died after being doused in methylated spirits and set on fire.

A wheelchair-bound woman has died after being set on fire during a domestic argument, police say.

The 50-year-old woman was allegedly doused in methylated spirits and set alight in Narromine, in the state’s west, last night.

A man fled before neighbours rushed to the house and doused the flames.

The woman was flown to Sydney’s St George Hospital with serious burns to her face, arms and torso, and died this morning.

A 57-year-old Narromine man was arrested and charged with attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Police said the charge was expected to be upgraded to murder during a court appearance at Narromine Local Court today.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


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