On Thursday 31 May 2007 three fires occurred in the Happy Valley Road and Mornington area in quick succession, beginning at approximately 1.45pm. The last and largest of the fires started at about 2.15pm.
Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Borrell of Wellington Police says as a direct result of very observant members of the public quickly passing information to the police, a 25-year-old male student was located in his vehicle shortly afterward and was arrested and charged with eight charges of arson.
"The eight charges relate to the three fires that occurred yesterday and a further five fires that have previously occurred in the Lyall Bay, Happy Valley, Mornington and Brooklyn areas since the beginning of April this year.
"Since the first fires in April, Police and the Fire Service have been undertaking a joint investigation which included fire scene examinations, comparisons of the numerous fires, and carefully considering information provided by members of the public.
"The fires have caused a great deal of concern for residents in those suburbs and extinguishing these scrub fires has been costly, not to mention the scar they have left on the landscape."
Detective Senior Sergeant Borrell says the dry and warm conditions for this time of year raised the risk of significant property damage, personal injury and possibly loss of life from these deliberately lit fires.
"We are very grateful to members of the public who have helped us identify and apprehend this person."
The police have released a photograph of a white Nissan Sentra Registration: RD71 and a map showing the locations of the eight fires with the dates and timings. They are seeking sightings of the car from the public within the areas where the fires occurred.
"The car is distinctive with fake bullet hole stickers on its right hand side and red Lucifer or devil stickers on its bonnet and both wing mirrors," says Detective Senior Sergeant Borrell.
"We are delighted with the public support to date and are seeking further assistance from anyone who may have seen this vehicle and its occupant."
Anyone with information can contact the investigation hotline Police have set up: Tel (04) 496 3454.
The 25-year-old man appeared in the Wellington District Court today and was remanded in custody to next appear in mid June.
Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Borrell
Ph 04 496 3428
Cell 0274 4358090