House burnt down over 'stolen fridge': Tradie admits

A "STOLEN" fridge triggered a drunken dispute in which a house and caravan were destroyed by fire south-west of Gladstone last week.

As a result, Gladstone father Kenneth Douglas, 39, and his two sons, Jesse, 26, and Matthew, 22, face life sentences, accused of arson, deprivation of liberty, robbery when armed, and dangerous conduct with a weapon near Diglum at 10pm on August 12.

Three men charged over a house fire at Diglum late on Friday night.
Three men charged over a house fire at Diglum late on Friday night. Contributed

But in a twist during their bail application before Gladstone Magistrates Court, and opposed by police prosecutor Gavin Reece, it was revealed that Jesse had made admissions to the arson. And in a statement before the court, house resident Amanda Loader alleges she saw Jesse pouring fuel before the fire.

Magistrate Melanie Ho noted that Ms Loader made the accusation.

She said Jesse, in his bail application, was in a difficult situation as he was the one observed with petrol, with Amanda Loader saying he did it.

Defence barrister Scott Moon read Ms Loader's police statement, saying: "I saw Jesse pour petrol from a yellow drum all over the lounge."

Mr Moon agreed Jesse had made admissions to police about the arson.

"He's made admissions. He's put his hand up and said I lit the fire," Mr Moon said.

Mr Moon said the men went to the rural property unarmed but guns had been found in the house.

He said Jesse had co-operated with police, telling them one gun had been loaded "and he discharged the firearm in the direction of the paddock to clear the gun".

"My clients went to the address not armed. They went there seeking Mitchell Loader over a fridge," Mr Moon said.

"They did not go with guns or to light up, arson a house... That they were intoxicated is not in dispute.

"It is essentially three gentlemen going to an address to confront someone over (allegedly) stolen property. There is no evidence Kenneth had any role in that (arson)."

Ms Ho said the evidence of Ms Loader was that he (Kenneth) had been in a doorway as the petrol was being poured.

Mr Moon said the arson was not planned. "It appears to be an opportunistic act, alcohol fuelled," he said.

Asked whether he was saying the house blew itself up, Mr Moon said no.

He said it was conceded that while there was yet no scientific evidence, some type of accelerant had been used. And with regard to the arson charge against Jesse Douglas, it was a strong Crown case.

Ms Ho said it was apparent that victims Amanda Loader (and Zachary Moore) had been very fortunate.

The court also heard that Mr Moore heard a gunshot and someone saying the words, "where are ya", and Ms Loader told police she saw Kenneth Douglas standing at a doorway with a gun.

Mr Moon said there was not a deliberate shot into a caravan. And there was no evidence as to who fired the shot and no specific threats had been made.

Mr Moon said that in her statement, Ms Loader says Kenneth fired shots pointed away from her, at the paddock.

Ms Ho adjourned the bail applications part-heard with a decision expected on Monday.

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