No evidence of chase, court told

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 19/02/2013

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The man accused of lighting five fires at the Foxton Racecourse told security officers that he chased two men on the property, one of whom was carrying a petrol can.

However, one of the officers said it did not look as if he had just given chase.

In late 2011, Kelvin Mark Webb, 36, was working as the racecourse caretaker.

He is accused of lighting fires there between November 18 and December 18, 2011, and is on trial in the High Court at Palmerston North on five charges of arson.

The defence says someone else is responsible, possibly track rider Danny Stamm.

In the witness box yesterday, security officer Graham Smith said that on November 30, 2011, Webb told him and fellow officer Thomas Slykhuis that he had just chased two men on the course, one of whom had a red petrol can.

"He said they headed off to target reserve, which is a road on the racecourse.

"I said, ‘did you chase them?' [Webb said] ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah'," Mr Smith said. "He wasn't huffing. He wasn't puffing. He wasn't sweating. I had a look around and I couldn't see anything."

Mr Smith acknowledged he did not know exactly when Webb had given chase.

Webb told Mr Smith he did not call the police as he had no phone.

After the fires started Mr Smith would check on Webb at his house every night.

"He wasn't happy. I saw him one time and he was freaked out."

In response to a question from defence lawyer Fergus Steedman, Mr Smith said he never saw any physical evidence to suggest Webb could have been close to a fire.

But between the second blaze on November 19, 2011, and the third on November 23, he saw signs on somebody else.

"On young Mr Stamm. I noticed his eyebrows [were] singed and some cream on his face."

Mr Smith said he had not discussed that with anybody until yesterday as he did not think it was relevant.

He also recalled he and Mr Slykhuis seeing Webb walking around the course one night, carrying a baseball bat.

When Webb saw the security officers he said: "Lucky it was you boys because I was going to bash them."

On the night of the final fire, Herbert Rauhihi said he saw somebody running from the area, who he described as "like a jockey".

The trial continues.

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- Manawatu Standard

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