Investigator tells jurors of finding dead pup in fire damage
A YOUNG woman accused of setting fire to her nan's house has been found not guilty by a jury.
Ladice Jade Maree Carter had been on trial in Rockhampton District Court this week after pleading not guilty to one count of arson.
Crown prosecutor Will Slack said the Crown alleged Ms Carter lit the fire that destroyed the back bedroom of a rental property in Berserker St about 11.40pm 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, Ms Carter accused a former boyfriend - Cobi Cox - of lighting the house fire and being the instigator of making the molotov cocktails, which were never lit. Mr Cox denied the allegations in court this week.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services fire investigator Acting Inspector John Mathers walked the jury through the investigation he carried out on the Frenchville rental property hours after the fire.
He said he started the investigation at 11am on August 7, finding spot fires in the backyard, extensive burning marks on the window sills, above the windows and into the roof of where the back bedroom was located.
Jurors were shown photographs as the inspector gave evidence, including a photograph of Ms Carter's two- month-old puppy deceased in a bedroom adjacent to the room where the fire started.
Insp Mathers said internal examinations showed the majority of the house was heavily smoke damaged and heat damaged on some of the surfaces.
He said all the power points in the room of the fire were melted, which he expected due to the other evidence of high heat. Insp Mathers said there were no wires leading into any of the power points in the room, which ruled out electrical fault as the cause of the fire.
"If the fire had started at a power terminal, I would've expected to see more damage at those points," he said.
Insp Mathers said he used a special device to detect scents in the room for anything that could have been a fuel such as petrol, but nothing was found.
However, Insp Mathers said he found a tin container in the bottom of the wardrobe along with a pile of clothes and an unidentified red gel substance that was out of place.
"It (container) looked very similar to a container you would store fuel for a lawn mower," he said.
The court heard forensic examination of the container showed no ignitable fuel was inside.
Photographs shown to the jury showed the ceiling had completely burnt away in the bedroom, exposing the roof.
Insp Mathers said he concluded the fire started in a two- metre section of the door at bed height.
He said the amount of heat needed to fuel the fire and cause the damage meant there was a bed and other furniture in the room despite no remains left.
"My opinion on how the fire started - there was a possibility of human intervention," Insp Mathers said.
"There were three people in the house that were doing activities in other rooms. There was no reason for a fire to be in that room at that time.
"I was unable to find a source of ignition."
He said he could not rule out human intervention, whether deliberate or accidental.
The jury deliberated for five hours yesterday before handing down the not guilty verdict.
Ms Carter was remanded in custody as she has an indictment presentation in the Supreme Court on Monday for a drug trafficking matter.