Accused arsonist granted bail next door to crime scene

A MAN accused of deliberatley lighting a house on fire in Depot Hill last month had no criminal history and has been granted bail with many strict conditions.

David Paul Potbury, 52, made a bail application in Rockhampton Magistrates Court this morning after being charged with arson in relation to the house fire on Arthur St, Depot Hill, on October 31.

Defence lawyer Samantha Legrady said Mr Potbury, who had zero criminal history, has post traumatic stress disorder due to trauma he experienced as a teenager.

She said he had reported to the court's mental health assessor that he had been "feeling low" in the weeks prior to the fire and had suicidal thoughts.

David Paul Potbury, 52, has been charged with arson following a house fire in Depot Hill on October 31 on Arthur St. The house had been damaged in a smaller fire weeks prior.
David Paul Potbury, 52, has been charged with arson following a house fire in Depot Hill on October 31 on Arthur St. The house had been damaged in a smaller fire weeks prior.

A report by the assessor recommended further intervention and assessment.

"It is my submission (the fire) was not done intentionally or recklessly," Ms Legrady said.

"There was no intent to hurt anyone. The house was vacant at the time.

"It is still unclear why he attended the address and allegedly committed the offence.

"He has a vague memory of going to the house."

Police prosecutor Clancy Fox said mental health experts had not confirmed Mr Potbury's PTSD diagnosis and police were concerned Mr Potbury was not subjected to an emergency assessment order.

He said Mr Potbury denied having anything to do with the fire during his first recorded interview with police, but changed his story the next day during another interview.

Mr Fox said Mr Potbury stated in his affidavit that he was concerned for the safety of children living next door to the fire damaged house.

The court heard the house had sustained some damage in a previous fire on September 24.

Mr Fox said police alleged Mr Potbury intentionally lit the fire to cause substantial damage so the landlord could make an insurance claim to have the damage repaired.

"The house will need to be completely rebuilt (now)," he said.

The court heard the bail address was a neighbouring property where Mr Potbury's friends lived.

Mr Fox said there was a risk he would return to the crime scene, or interfere with witnesses due to this bail address.

Magistrate Philippa Beckinsale addressed the concerns and ordered daily reporting to police, a curfew, no attendance to Bunnings Rockhampton or the boundary of the crime scene, no contact with witnesses or attending their homes or workplaces, and ordered he engage with a mental health practitioner and comply with their directions.

Mr Potbury's arson charge was adjourned to December 18.



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