Man to face trial house fire

A MOTHER and daughter have told a court they saw a man shielding his face as he rushed away from a blazing Hervey Bay house.

Keith Brian Kidner, 47, is accused of setting fire to his former home at Pialba while its owner slept inside on October 26, 2008.

He was yesterday ordered to stand trial in the Hervey Bay District Court charged with arson and wilful damage.

Veronica Burrows, 41, and her daughter Jacqueline Martin, 21, said they’d seen a man hurrying away from the Beach Road house moments before they realised it was alight.

The pair was walking from Ms Burrows’ nearby home heading for a Pialba service station about 11pm.

“We heard rattling sounds, then we heard a thud like someone jumping down,” Ms Martin said. “Then we saw someone running from the house.

“In between the house that was on fire and the house on the right side of it, I saw him coming out of the bushes.

“I wasn’t sure if he was wearing a hood or not but it was kind of like he was covering his face as he was running.”

Ms Martin described the fire as “flames coming up from the corner of the roof”.

Ms Burrows said it appeared the person leaving the scene had “pulled (the jumper) up over his head to cover his ID, his face and that”.

She told the court that her daughter raced over to the house, knocking on the door to alert its occupants.

“She woke the person up, told him his house was on fire, then we rang triple-0.”

During yesterday’s proceedings, the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court heard that Kidner had lived at the house for three months, during which time he had a number of disputes with his landlord, Alfred Rinaldi.

Mr Rinaldi told the court he too lived in the home and rented one room to Kidner, who he described as “unstable” and “scary”.

“He could snap out of the blue,” the 60-year-old said.

“Swearing and yelling, he could become very scary.”

He said he thought Kidner had been stealing from him, including tools from his shed.

“After the three months, what happened was, it was impossible to live with him.”

Kidner and a friend then moved into a property owned by Mr Rinaldi’s ex-wife.

“She was proceeding to evict them because they were not paying the rent,” Mr Rinaldi said.

After the fire, police searched Kidner’s home where they found a black shirt which smelt of citronella oil, a pink pillow case that matched the type of material used to ignite the fire and a metal citronella candle holder, prosecutor Jeanette Grigoris said.

Kidner is on bail and will face the District Court at a date to yet to be determined.

‘She woke the person up, told him his house was on fire, then we rang triple-0’

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