Whether or not the man who set fire to King Island’s only pharmacy knew the flat above it was occupied is one of several issues being examined as he faced court this week, mainstream media report.
Brady Oates pled guilty to two counts of burglary, one of stealing and a count of arson; a disputed facts hearing earlier this week examined whether or not he knew that the flat above the building was occupied.
Oates broke into the King Island Pharmacy in January 2015 to steal medication, but returned to destroy fingerprint evidence by setting the drug counter on fire.
The building, which also housed a newsagency and a travel agent, was destroyed and upstairs neighbour Penelope Clemons escaped with “my underpants, a jumper, a torch and my life,” the Advocate reports.
Another nearby neighbour, James Scott, said he had spoken to Oates in the past about how he and Clemons had lost access to their on-site parking and had to park in the street. The Crown’s allegation is that Oates knew somebody lived above the pharmacy, thus augmenting the seriousness of the arson.
Oates’ defence says he was unaware that he was risking anybody’s safety, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The King Island Pharmacy – the only pharmacy on the island – operated for five months from temporary premises in a small consulting room at the King Island Hospital.
It reopened in new premises in July 2015.
“We are excited that we have been able to deliver on our promise of coming back bigger and better and all of this has happened in such a short period of time,” co-owner Simon Reynolds said at the time.