'No forensic evidence' link to fires

23:00, Feb 21 2013

No forensic evidence exists to link the man accused of lighting five fires at Foxton Racecourse to any of the blazes, the High Court at Palmerston North has been told.

Kelvin Mark Webb, 36, is charged with five counts of arson following a series of suspicious fires lit at Foxton Racecourse between November 18 and December 18, 2011.

The prosecution's case against Webb, the racecourse caretaker at the time of the fires, is nearing an end, with the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Peter Vine, spending yesterday in the witness box.

"Essentially there's no forensic, there's no scientific evidence against the accused," defence lawyer Fergus Steedman said toward the end of the day.

"Not to my knowledge, apart from CCTV footage," Mr Vine said.

That footage is from a covert surveillance camera installed in late November and pointed at Webb's house.


Mr Steedman asked if Mr Vine discussed with a colleague the option of arresting Webb on November 27, the day of the fourth fire. Mr Vine said he did have that discussion with a senior colleague but there was not enough evidence at that point.

Mr Steedman asked what evidence against Webb was gained between that day and his arrest on December 18. Mr Vine said the security footage was the only new evidence gained in that time.

"That video footage is crucial," Mr Steedman said.

"It makes it possible to charge someone you couldn't charge at the end of November."

"Yes," Mr Vine said.

The jury was shown footage from the camera yesterday that was recorded on December 17 and 18, 2011. The fifth fire at the racecourse, in a set of stables, was discovered in the early hours of December 18.

The image, after Webb has turned off the lights at his house, appeared mostly black save for lights to the left of his house from the Mobil service station on State Highway 1.

Mr Vine said that at 12.24am on December 18, 2011, the lights to the left of the house were obscured twice by someone moving between them and the camera.

He believed that showed Webb leaving his house after the time that he had told police he had gone to sleep and before the fifth fire was discovered.

In cross-examination, Mr Steedman asked Mr Vine to go through several sections of the surveillance video from the two days.

This included portions where Webb left his house without crossing the area where the Mobil lights were visible at night, footage in the evening where he did cross in front of the lights and they were still visible between his legs and footage of one of Webb's dogs running around unrestrained outside that night.

The defence case is that somebody else was responsible for the fires.

The fortnight-long trial continues.

Manawatu Standard