The man accused of lighting five fires at Foxton Racecourse told a police detective he was drinking with a friend on the night of the first fire, until he was on a late-night trip to get an icecream.
Within minutes Kelvin Mark Webb was asking the officer, Detective Peter Vine, if he thought he was the arsonist.
Footage of two police interviews with Webb, recorded in November 2011, were played to a jury in the High Court at Palmerston North yesterday on day eight of Webb's trial.
The former Foxton Racecourse caretaker is charged with five counts of arson from fires lit at the track between November 18 and December 18, 2011.
It was on November 18 that Webb was drinking at his house at the racecourse facility, with track rider Dustin Halidone after Mr Halidone fed his horses about 7.30pm.
"Next thing I know it was about 12.36 and he was heading home," Webb said in an interview recorded on November 24.
Mr Vine asked how much the pair had drunk and Webb said they had had 12 or 13 cans of Cody bourbon and Cokes between them.
Webb said he probably had a couple of drinks more than Mr Halidone because he had been drinking when Mr Halidone arrived.
"I'm certain it was 12.36 when I said: ‘We must think about packing up'," Webb said.
Webb told Mr Vine he grabbed something for Mr Halidone to eat because he was driving and he left soon after.
Webb said he then went straight to bed and was woken by the arrival of fire trucks called to a fire in the racecourse grandstand.
About two hours into the interview, in which Webb repeatedly said he and Mr Halidone had been inside his house until his guest left after 12.36am, he and Mr Vine took a break.
On the resumption of the interview Mr Vine asked Webb if he had gone to the Mobil service station in Foxton on the night of the grandstand fire.
"Actually yeah I did, I went to get an icecream," Webb said.
This might have been before Mr Halidone arrived at his house, Webb said. Mr Vine said security footage put Webb in the Mobil at 11.08pm.
"Dustin was still at my place then," Webb said. "Is this Friday night?"
Mr Vine told Webb that he had said to a police officer attending a fire in a stable on November 19 that Mr Halidone had gone home about 9.30pm the night before.
"No it was definitely 12.36," Webb said.
Mr Vine repeated that Webb was at the Mobil at 11.08pm.
"That doesn't sound right, ‘cause I definitely remember 12.36 was when Dustin left and I didn't go with him," Webb said. "I can't answer that, I don't know."
Webb said Mr Halidone might have left earlier than he remembered.
However, he said in the interview he now remembered going to Mobil and telling the staff member there he had walked because he was drunk.
"I definitely remember going to the Mobil, I bought a Cornetto.
"You don't think I did it, do you?"
Mr Vine said police were still trying to work out who had lit the fires.
"I didn't do it," Webb said.
The trial continues today.
- Manawatu Standard
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