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Alleged arsonist granted bail

Firefighters work to dampen down the Mangatarere Valley Rd makeshift house which was destroyed by fire on Wednesday. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Second arson attack in Masterton

HAYLEY GASTMEIER and BECKIE WILSON

The tenant of a makeshift house in rural Carterton has been charged with arson.

And the owner of the property says he is gutted about the loss.

Roger Kenneth Simpson, 66, appeared in Masterton District Court on Thursday charged with intentionally damaging a building on Mangatarere Valley Rd by fire on Wednesday afternoon.

Prosecutor Freya O’Meara said police opposed bail as they deemed Simpson a safety risk to the public.

However, Judge Craig Thompson granted bail on the grounds that Simpson was of a “mature age” and had no previous convictions.

Firefighters, who were called to the remote blaze around 5.30pm, were unable to save the building, which was an old train carriage that had been converted into a house with added structures.

The owner, Blair McGregor, who lived next door, was out tending to his bees when he noticed thick smoke.

He said he rushed over to the property to find it engulfed in flames.

McGregor said he and his wife had lived in the unpermitted train carriage until saving enough money to build themselves their home on land next door.

The carriage had been occupied by Simpson, a friend, for the past six years, but the Carterton District Council had recently issued an Insanitary Building notice on the structure.

McGregor said he had been encouraging his friend to move to another house with better living conditions for some time, but this did not eventuate and the relationship between the pair had become strained.

“We went to help someone and it’s just turned out terrible.”

Simpson and McGregor have a case before the Tenancy Tribunal this week.

Simpson was remanded on bail to a Masterton motel, supplied by WINZ.

He was told not to contact McGregor, but he was allowed to attend scheduled tribunal hearings.

Simpson’s next court appearance is later this month.

Wairarapa firefighters and police attended a second suspected arson on Thursday, leaving a “family in need” without a home.

The suspicious fire was lit at a Trust House property on Tay Pl, Masterton, some time before 7am.

Detective Raewyn Smellie confirmed the fire was deliberately lit, and the house was not tenanted.

Firefighters managed to save the single-storey dwelling, but there was “moderate damage” to the inside.

Trust House chief executive officer Allan Pollard estimated the cost of the damage to be from $15,000 to $20,000.

He said a family were lined up to move into the property this week.

“It’s not a disaster – it’s not a demolition job – but it is disappointing.”

Pollard confirmed the property was empty, but Trust House had a family, who were in emergency accommodation, lined up to move in this week.

The family would now have to wait for the house to be repaired, which would likely take a couple of months.

A fire investigator and police’s Criminal Investigation Branch continue to make inquiries, with no arrests made to date.

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