Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping Centre
Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping Centre Stuart Quinn

Charge upgraded against Walkerston business owner

CHARGES have been upgraded against a business owner accused of deliberately setting her Walkerston newsagency on fire.

An indictment was presented against Narelle Ann Cooper in Mackay District Court this morning charging her with arson and it is understood she plans to fight the allegations.

It is alleged the Devereux Creek woman tried to burn down newsXpress Walkerston on Creek Street on July 30 last year.

 

A fire broke out at the Walkerston Woolworths complex.
A fire broke out at the Walkerston Woolworths complex. Aidan Cureton

On the night of the blaze, smoke was seen from the building as the shopping centre, including a Woolworths, was evacuated.

It is understood the business, which Ms Cooper had reportedly owned for just over a decade, had been for sale for quite some time before the fire.

Crews were called to the scene at 5.50pm and the fire was extinguished in less than an hour. 

 

Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping Centre
Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping Centre Stuart Quinn

Mackay CIB detectives arrested Ms Cooper in early August and initially charged her with attempted arson.

But Crown Prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence this morning presented an indictment charging Ms Cooper with arson.

A plea was not entered and Ms Cooper's lawyer told the court "at this stage ... it will be a trial".

 

Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping Centre
Fire at NewsXpress newsagency at Walkerston Shopping Centre Stuart Quinn

Under the Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899, the maximum penalty for arson is life imprisonment.

Ms Cooper is on bail.

 

Walkerston house fire: Family Amanda, Aprile, 11, and Steve Benson lose everything. Photo Louise Starkey / Daily Mercury
Walkerston house fire: Family Amanda, Aprile, 11, and Steve Benson lose everything. Photo Louise Starkey / Daily Mercury Louise Starkey

The case was adjourned for mention to the next callover date.



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