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Shepparton man bailed following alleged arson in Olympic Ave

By Liz Mellino

A man who was on parole for trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs has been released on bail following an alleged arson that caused $250,000 damage to a house in Olympic Ave, Shepparton.

Luke Anthony Brown, 30, from Shepparton, was bailed in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday over the incident, which saw the home set alight while three people were asleep inside.

The court was told Mr Brown was on parole at the time of the incident, following his release from prison in August last year, of which he still had two-and-a-half years to serve.

“That parole had not assisted him in resisting temptation,” prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Kim Thomson told the court.

“This is a very serious allegation, three people were asleep in a house which was completely destroyed by fire — those people were extracted by passing residents, had it not been for their actions the result could have been much more serious.”

The court heard Mr Brown and a co-accused allegedly went to the address in Olympic Ave, belonging to the Department of Health and Human Services, just before 8 am on July 5.

Police allege Mr Brown and the co-accused gained entry to the home via the front door, going into various rooms to find available material to start a fire.

The court was told they then left the home, leaving in a vehicle parked nearby.

A neighbour saw the home was on fire soon after, entering the property to remove the three occupants who were asleep inside.

The court heard it took fire crews about one hour to extinguish the blaze which left the home "uninhabitable".

“(The accused) made no attempts to wake the occupants after lighting the fire, they let the neighbours to do that,” Detective Acting Sergeant Lance Wiltshire told the court.

“The actions placed the lives of the victims at risk and the neighbouring property owners ... (Mr Brown has) shown no remorse for his actions, a complete disregard for human life.”

The court heard the house suffered significant damage during the blaze.

Det Sgt Wiltshire said the accused should not be released on bail as he was a "significant risk" to the safety of the community.

“The female (victim) is terrified. She expressed real concern of the accused being released, she fears for her safety and further attempts to harm herself or the property,” he said.

Mr Brown's lawyer Robert Thyssen argued his client met the threshold of exceptional circumstances to be released from custody.

He said the death of his client's mother and his Aboriginal background were two factors Magistrate Peter Mithen ought to consider.

Mr Thyssen said his client had been performing well on parole since August, saying a number of other conditions could be put in place to increase his parole and reduce the risk of him being released on bail.

“Parole has been progressing well and the initial high level supervision has been relaxed,” he said.

“Parole would continue subject to an increasing in the conditions ... (these include) wearing an electronic bracelet, a location bracelet, so if a curfew is imposed his position will be known at all times ... and a bracelet for electronic motioning which would record all consumption of alcohol.”

The court heard Mr Brown had a stable address and family support available to him upon his release.

Mr Thyssen said delay was also an issue for his client, with the accused looking at a "two to three-year wait" before a trial.

Mr Mithen granted the accused bail saying he was given "some comfort" by the electronic monitoring which could be imposed to monitor his movements and consumption of alcohol.

“Any breach of the conditions will bring you back into custody and the bar on the high jump gets higher,” he said.

“Breaching bail will have a drastic effect on your future if you do.”

Mr Brown faces eight charges, which include arson, reckless conduct endangering life, reckless conduct endangering serious injury and breaching a condition of parole.

He is expected to face court again in October.

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