Teen accused of Piha fires appears in Waitakere District Court

One of the suspicious fires which was lit at Piha beach earlier this month.
PAIGE MAREE/SUPPLIED

One of the suspicious fires which was lit at Piha beach earlier this month.

The teenager accused of lighting a spate of fires at Piha beach, west of Auckland, has kept name suppression, despite being outed on social media.

The 19-year-old appeared in the Waitakere District Court via audio visual link. 

He was charged with three counts of arson and one charge of burglary. 

The man was accused of burning this popular beachside cafe to the ground.
FAIRFAX NZ

The man was accused of burning this popular beachside cafe to the ground.

The man had appeared in the Tauranga District Court last week after he was arrested on Thursday. 

READ MORE: Accused Piha fire bug appears in court 

On Monday, the man's lawyer Paul Dacre QC argued his interim name suppression should continue as he had not had the chance to meet with his client. 

He also said threats had been made against the man online. 

"There have been various comments made on social media which were of a threatening nature," Dacre said. 

Police opposed name suppression, but did agree the man had the right to seek advice from his lawyer. 

The police prosecutor told the court the man's name had been published on social media, therefore interim name suppression should be lifted. 

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Judge June Jelas however allowed name suppression to continue and adjourned the matter until June. 

He was remanded in custody until his next appearance. He was currently being held in Waikeria Prison. 

According to the summary of facts the first fire started at the ANZ Viaduct Event Centre when a paper recycling bin was set alight.

A passing staff member was able to put the fire out. The fire was next to the building adjacent to gas cylinders used for cooking.

At the time of the incident 934 guests were attending a function at the centre.

After midnight on May 7 the man was accused of lighting a fire near the Tasman View walkway using an accelerant.

The blaze developed into a large forest fire and threatened the safety of houses in the area. Residents had to be evacuated and many fire engines were needed to douse the flames. 

The fire consumed seven hectares of natural reserve.

On the same evening the man was accused of lighting a fire at a unit in the back of the Piha Surf Lifesaving club near a takeaway outlet, which caused significant damage. 

 - Stuff

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