A Tabulam man has faced court accused of setting alight an area near his home.
A Tabulam man has faced court accused of setting alight an area near his home. Cathy Adams

Man accused of fire appeared 'very intoxicated', court hears

A TABULAM man has faced a hearing over allegations he lit a fire on land near his home and allowed it to spread.

Charles John Torrens appeared before Casino Local Court for the hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Torrens' defence barrister, Gemunu Kumarasinhe, told the court his client completely denied lighting the fire.

The 52-year-old was charged with intentionally causing a fire and being reckless to its spread after emergency services attended the blaze in the Tabulam area on August 15 last year.

It's understood the fire burnt through about 12 hectares.

The matter went before a partial hearing before Casino Local Court on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Carrie-Lee Locke called two police witnesses.

The first officer told the court there had been a "very high" fire danger rating forecast for the day of the fire.

The second, who attended the scene near the Bruxner Hwy about 5pm on the day of the incident, recalled undertaking video interviews with residents at the property.

He said Mr Torrens appeared "very intoxicated" when emergency services were called to the scene and that the fire was "within metres" of the defendant's home.

Ms Locke asked him to quantify his level of intoxication. But Mr Kumarasinhe objected, saying the officer was "not an expert".

"It's my submission it's an unfair question to ask because he's not an authority," Mr Kumarasinhe said.

Mr Kumarasinhe questioned why he did not take written statements from witnesses as well as recording body-worn video.

Magistrate David Heilpern said body-worn video statements were "perfectly permissible" as evidence.

Ms Locke also called an 18-year-old who was staying with her grandmother at the property at the time of the fire.

She recalled driving around the community with others when they noticed the fire burning around a tree near Mr Torrens.

"As we were coming down... where (Mr Torrens) lives, we were going to go around the tree but we couldn't ... because of the fire," she said.

The hearing is due to be continued on May 12.


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