Matthew Geiszler yesterday entered a not guilty plea to arson in the Rockhampton District Court.
Matthew Geiszler yesterday entered a not guilty plea to arson in the Rockhampton District Court.

Fire caused $480k damages to former Win TV building

HE was 18-years-old at the time he lit a fire in the abandoned WIN Television Building, causing $480,000 of damage to the iconic building on Dean St.

Now, Matthew Geiszler will spend two years of a four year jail term in prison before being eligible for parole.

Geiszler, 21, was found guilty of arson after a four day trial in Rockhampton District Court this week.

Emergency services arrived at the fire scene at 192 Dean St at 10.36pm on June 17, 2016.

The court heard the forensic officer found bare footprints on three of four cupboard doors on the floor which were covered in soot.

Crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence said investigators found his palm print inside the building and his footprints in soot, leading away from the scene.

The court was told fire crews swept the scene looking for people while carrying out extinguishing duties, having the main fire out by 10.53pm.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services' officer-in-charge of North Rockhampton Station, Peter Guley said he recalled seeing the flames of the fire through the "glass tiles" from Dean St.

Ms Lawrence said Queensland Police Service's Sergeant Allan Fleming arrived at the scene about the time the fire was extinguished, made some phones calls and declared the building a "crime scene".

Geiszler claimed he had been at the building about a week before the large fire with his then girlfriend, had found a bottle full of black powder which he spread about.

He also claimed he placed the cupboard doors on the ground for he and his girlfriend to walk on over broken glass.

Judge Michael Burnett said the jury's verdict of guilty was consistent with them not believing Geiszler's claims, after seeing he lied to the police during the video recorded interview less than a month after the fire.

"Plainly, your foot was on the door when it (fire) was alight," he said.

"No one knows what the truth is. Only you do."

Defence barrister Ross Lo Monaco said in 2016, Geiszler was going through a bad patch.

The boiler maker was convicted of burglary after stealing $41,000 of jewellery on March 1, 2016, along with trespass at the WIN Television site.

Mr Lo Monaco said he was living away from parents with other teenagers at the time and was smoking marijuana.

The court heard the WIN Television building was demolished after also being "adversely affected by vandalism".

Coles has shown interest in the former WIN Television site on Dean St in 2014.

Parmac Property Group agreed to terms with WIN TV to purchase the site in 2014, with plans to transform it into a neighbourhood shopping complex including a Coles supermarket, a bakery and a newsagency.

The development never got off the ground.

The court heard during Geizler's trial that the site was leased for 12 months to Rockhampton PCYC in 2015.

Officer in charge of Rockhampton PCYC Greg Jones told the court when they packed up at the end of leasing the right hand side of the property (closest to Dean St) back to the kitchen, very little was left behind.

He said they were not able to access other parts of the building as they were locked up.

Sgt Jones said when they first occupied the site, it "looked like WIN had just left everything in the building" and he "saw some lunches in the fridge and on the shelf".

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