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NOT GUILTY: Teen accused of setting fire to house cleared

TRIAL CONTINUES: Harrison Abeleven, 19, from Tivol, is defending the charge of arson to a Booval house at Ipswich District Court.
TRIAL CONTINUES: Harrison Abeleven, 19, from Tivol, is defending the charge of arson to a Booval house at Ipswich District Court. Ross Irby

UPDATE: 

A TEEN who faced court this week accused of setting fire to a Booval house has been found not guilty.

The jury returned their verdict late Tuesday.

Harrison Abeleven, 19 was found not guilty on all four charges; arson; entering premises with intent; stealing; and causing wilful damage after Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC directed the jury to find him not guilty.

It comes after the jury heard two days of evidence.

Co-accused Jacob Ainslie, 20, will be sentenced on Thursday for the arson and associated offences.

 

INITIAL: 

TWO bored Ipswich teenagers who allegedly went out to get up to some "high jinks" are accused of destroying a Booval house by arson.

Tivoli teenager Harrison Abeleven, 19, has pleaded not guilty to arson and is defending all charges in a trial before an Ipswich District Court jury.

Instead, Abeleven claims his co-accused, Jacob Ainslie, was sniffing petrol stolen from a car and then lit the fire while Abeleven stayed on a footpath not knowing what he would do.

Abeleven denied he acted as a lookout and pleaded not guilty to arson; entering premises with intent; stealing; and causing wilful damage.

Crown prosecutor Ben Jackson said in his opening address to the court that the "two young men... were at home and bored, and who decided to do some 'high jinks'."

He said they wanted to "set a house on fire and watch it burn. It completely burned to the ground".

Mr Jackson alleged Abeleven, and Ainslie, both then aged 18, set fire to a timber house at 7 South Station Rd about 2.45am on May 9, 2016.

It was vacant at the time and owned by accountant Sunny Prakash.

"I said you lit a f---in' fire. Jacob was laughing," Abeleven said in a recorded police interview played to the jury.

In other excerpts from the August 2016 interview, Abeleven said there had been "no fuel talk" before he alleged Ainslie sucked petrol from a parked Commodore in Bergin St before the house fire.

He said Ainslie took sips of Jack Daniel's from a Coke bottle, then put the petrol in it. Ainslie also had cigarette lighters, he claimed.

Asked by police if he was acting as lookout, Abeleven said "not really".

As they walked, he said Ainslie "was sniffing away at the petrol, being an idiot".

Then as they walked past an abandoned house in South Station Rd, Ainslie said they went inside through an open front door.

"He disappeared. He came out. He missed some stairs. He jumped. I could see a glow in there," Abeleven said.

"I was out of there."

Abeleven denied knowing his mate was going to light a fire.

"I thought he was just going to check it out. I wasn't expecting what he did," he said.

He said they ran back to their mate's home.

Abeleven said he kept quiet about the fire but told his dad and "got a big lecture".

A forensic biologist identified DNA from a garden hose as being a "one in nine billion" match to Mr Ainslie. It is alleged the hose was used to siphon petrol.

The trial before Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC continues today.

Topics:  arson booval ipswich crime ipswich district court


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