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'I was pretty stressed': Arson accused says she was asleep

UPDATE: A couple accused of setting their home on fire to claim $550,000 in insurance claim they were asleep when the fire started.

Dawn Lee McConochie and Terrance George McConochie are charged with deliberately burning their North Booval home with the intention of trying to claim more than half a million dollars from their insurer.

They both pleaded not guilty on day one of the trial last Tuesday to arson and attempted fraud after their house caught fire early in the morning of April 6, 2014.

On day five of the trial this morning, the jury heard Mrs McConochie tell police the pair were asleep in their beds when they heard glass breaking and woke up to see flames down the hall.

"I heard someone walking in the house so (Terrance) got up. He said no one was there and it must have been my imagination and we went to sleep," the jury heard in a recording played to the court.

"I heard breaking glass and could see the reflections of flames.

"I grabbed my shorts, phone and keys and rang 000.

"Terry was filling up buckets of water and I assumed he was throwing them on the flames.

"I was pretty stressed and pretty upset and not really with it."

In the recording, Mrs McConochie said she moved their car away from the house before emergency services arrived.

The trial continues.

UPDATE: A HOUSE fire which two homeowners are accused of lighting to claim $550,000 in insurance started in a bedroom, a jury has heard.

Dawn Lee McConochie and Terrance George McConochie are charged with setting their North Booval home on fire and tyring to claim more than half a million dollars from their insurer.

They both pleaded not guilty in day one of the trial on Tuesday to arson and attempted fraud after their house caught on fire early in the morning of April 6, 2014.

Day three of a trial in Ipswich District Court today heard the fire started in the third bedroom.

Senior Constable Dan France told the court there was nothing in the melted power points in the bedroom which "helped eliminate it could have been an electrical fire".

"It's another step along the path in trying to eliminate an electric fault was the cause of the fire," he said.

He said temperatures in the room would have exceeded 600 degrees.

"The fuel load was relatively low given the amount of damage. Maybe there was something else in there that assisted in generating heat," Snr Const France said.

"I don't believe the amount of furniture in the house was consistent with the damage.

"For the fire to do the damage it did, there needed to be more fuel. There should have been something else in the room that contributed to the fire. Everything in the room was on fire at some stage."

Snr Const France said he was unable to determine if the fire was deliberately lit.

"I can't say where in the room the fire started other than it started in the room," he said.

"We always assume the worst, that the fire had been deliberately lit and someone has burnt it down and then we test that hypothesis.

"Given the amount of damage to the room, I was unable to determine if the fire was deliberately lit."

The trial continues.

UPDATE: A JURY tasked with deciding if a North Booval couple deliberately set fire to their own home to claim $550,000 in insurance have come face to face with the result of the fire.

Pictures of charred walls, melted fittings, sooted ceilings and blackened furniture and picture frames were shown to Ipswich District Court in the trial against Dawn Lee McConochie and Terrance George McConochie.

They both pleaded not guilty in day one of the trial on Tuesday to arson and attempted fraud after their house caught on fire early in the morning of April 6, 2014.

Fire investigators today told the court parts of the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home on North Station Rd at North Booval were damaged in the fire.

The trial continues.

 

'My house is on fire': Triple-zero call played to jury

"MY HOUSE is on fire".

It was a recording of a Triple Zero call that echoed through an Ipswich courtroom yesterday in a trial against a couple charged for setting their North Booval home on fire and trying to claim $550,000 in insurance.

Dawn Lee McConochie and Terrance George McConochie both pleaded not guilty to arson and attempted fraud after their house caught on fire early in the morning of April 6, 2014.

The court heard the McConochies bought the 1.3 hectare property with river frontage and home with four bedrooms and two bathrooms for $430,000 in 2004 and lived in the home on and off.

Crown prosecutor Melissa Wilson told the court the property was damaged in the 2011 floods to the point it was uninhabitable and it was not insured for flooding.

She said the couple debated the property was flood affected but had tried to sell it eight times since it flooded.

The court heard the house was insured in May 2013 for $250,000 and the contents for $50,000 but Mrs McConochie doubled the value of the home and contents to a total of $550,000 less than a month later.

Ms Wilson said they were not living there at the time of the fire but returned to the house at 10pm on the night it started - five hours and 13 minutes before the Triple Zero call was made.

The fire was put out 22 minutes after emergency services arrived.

The court heard the McConochies had overdrawn on their mortgage $30,000 and they had debts that had been referred to debt collectors.

Ms Wilson said debt collectors called the couple every day.

"They were the sole people to benefit from the insurance claim and these two people were in financial stress at the time of the fire, they were in dire financial stress," she said.

Ms Wilson said the court would hear evidence from fire investigators that suggested two separate fires were deliberately lit and there was human involvement.

Crown witness Senior Constable Anthony Bradbury told the court he spoke to Mr McConochies at the scene of the fire who told him they heard breaking glass and saw a yellow light coming from the kitchen and sun room area.

He said the couple were standing under a tree when he arrived at the property and they were wearing clothes like pyjamas.

He said Mrs McConochie was not wearing shoes.

The trial will continue today.

Topics:  ipswich ipswich court ipswich crime


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