Third person charged in relation to fires

TUESDAY: A third person has been charged with arson in relation to one of the 19 fires in the Bendigo area.

The 21-year-old male was arrested and charged on Monday, and released on bail.

He was charged with one count of arson in relation to the fire which gutted a shipping container at Albert Roy Reserve on February 6.

The man will appear in court on May 25, along with co-accused Ricky Mackay and Corey Deveraux.

MONDAY: One of two men charged in relation to 19 fires in Bendigo causing $600,000 damage admitted to police he knew it was wrong, but did not think it would get as “big” as it did.

The second man continues to deny his involvement, despite police allegedly watching him light the final fire.

Ricky Mackay, 21, and Corey Deveraux, 22, both of Eaglehawk, appeared via video link in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Monday where they did not apply for bail.

Police followed the housemates early Sunday morning, before watching Deveraux jump the fence of a building on Market Street to allegedly light another fire, while Mackay kept watch. They were arrested shortly after.

Deveraux denied involvement in any of the fires, despite CCTV footage placing them at several of the scenes.

Mackay placed himself and Deveraux at the scene of 14 fires, but did not admit to lighting them. He said they were either in the area to watch the fires put out, or they were searching for cigarette butts.

In a text message exchange before the fire at Canterbury Park, Deveraux allegedly told Mackay "that sad moment that I have another place I want to do already. Lol", before describing the wooden score room at the oval.

During the exchange, Deveraux allegedly wrote "just pop the lock fire lighters and run like f***".

Mackay allegedly responded, “It’s all good with me man”.

Deveraux allegedly followed the fires on his Fire Ready app. His username was “fire is so f*ckinfun [sic]”.

Two men never far from police attention

Corey Deveraux and Ricky Mackay spoke with police at the scene of several fires in Eaglehawk before their arrest, the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court heard.

On February 2, the pair were spotted standing near the first fire in the portable building of Future Employment Opportunities on Hall Street, Eagleghawk, at 2.50am.

The two men – plus a third person, not accused – gave a statement to police, saying they spotted three or four people running from the area along the railway line. They could not give descriptions because it was too dark, police were told.

They told police they were having cigarettes in the area when they heard glass break and spotted the fire. Deveraux called 000.

Police noticed the three “all smelt like smoke”, but noted they were also smoking cigarettes at the time.

Deveraux and Mackay again spoke with police at the scene of the Eaglehawk Rotary Book Shop fire in the early hours of February 14.

Investigators noted the men “smelt like smoke” and they were once again smoking cigarettes.

Deveraux and Mackay told police their Fire Ready app had gone off and they have come to take a look at the fire scene.

The two housemates were caught on CCTV footage in Eaglehawk on the night of a number of the fires.

On the morning of the February 4 fire at Albert Roy Reserve, CCTV footage showed the two men walking along Victoria Street shortly before CFA units went past to extinguish the fire.

Fire crews told police they noticed two youths, aged between 16 and 20, walking about five blocks from the scene at 4am.

They were again allegedly caught on CCTV in the car park of Tristar Medical Group Eaglehawk within 30 seconds of the bins being set alight on February 20.

There were no other people sighted in the area at the time.

On the morning of their arrest, investigators followed Deveraux and Mackay throughout Eaglehawk.

They were seen allegedly entering Canterbury Oval about 2am where they looked at the damage from the fire the previous evening.

They then returned to their house where Mackay collected a backpack, and the two walked to the rehabilitation centre on Market Street where Deveraux was allegedly spotted jumping the fence shortly before fire broke out among rubbish.

The two ran towards their house on Bullock Street where they were arrested.

Mackay was allegedly found in possession of an empty container of kerosene, fire lighters, a roll of toilet paper and several cigarette lighters.

The court heard it was both Deveraux and Mackay’s first time in custody, and neither had custody management issues.

They will next appear in court on May 25.

Fires spanned the Bendigo region

Mackay and Deveraux have been charged in relation to the following fires:

January 20: fire burns 25 square metres of bushland at 2.55am on Kangaroo Gully Road, Kangaroo Flat.

January 22: a small fire burns 20 square metres of scrub at 5am on Diamond Hill Road, Kangaroo Flat.

January 24: fire at 1.25am destroys the slides at Cooinda Park Playground, Golden Square, causing $200,000 damage.

January 26: a fire is lit in bins at the Eaglehawk Railway Station at 9.40pm.

January 27: three grass fires are lit a the Eaglehawk Railway Station at 1.20am. The first is on the Hall Street side, the second near Panton Street and the third is along a fence line.

January 31: a small fire on Bendigo-Pyramid Hill Road, Woodvale, burns about three square metres.

January 31: fire burns 13 square metres on Whipstick Road, near Lightning Hill, at 12.30am.

February 2: fire burns part of a portable building at Future Employment Opportunities in Eaglehawk at 2.50am.

February 4: baseball club rooms at Albert Roy Reserve are burnt at 4am.

February 6: fire burns 18 square metres at an old gold mine site on Caldwells Road in Eaglehawk at 6.40am.

February 6: a fire is lit in a shipping container at Albert Roy Reserve at 6.50am.

February 6: fire damages a portable building at Future Employment Opportunities at 7.15am.

February 8: the FEO portable building is completely gutted by fire at 2.25am.

February 9: carpet and timber off cuts are set alight at St Liborius Catholic Primary School at 7.20am.

February 14: a fire is lit at the rear of the Eaglehawk Rotary Book Shop at 2.20am.

February 19: recycling bins at the Stewart Cowen Rehabilitation Centre are set alight at 6.30am.

February 20: the score room at Canterbury Park is gutted by fire at 4am.

February 20: bins are set alight behind Tristar Medical Group in Eaglehawk at 4.20am.

February 21: fires are lit in bins at the Stewart Cowen Rehabilitation Centre, just before the men's arrest.

Related coverage:

UPDATE 12pm: 

More to come.

UPDATE 11.46am: Corey Deveraux, 22, has also faced court in relation to the 19 fires. He has been remanded in custody.

UPDATE MONDAY 11.45am: Ricky Mackay, 21, has appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court charged in relation to 19 fires, causing $600,000 damage.

He made no application for bail.

SUNDAY: POLICE have arrested and charged two men in relation to 16 fires in Eaglehawk, two in Kangaroo Flat and one in Golden Square since January 20.

The two men, aged 22 and 21, both of Eaglehawk, were arrested at 4am Sunday, shortly after allegedly lighting another fire in bins at the Stewart Cowen Rehabilitation Centre in Eaglehawk.

They were also charged with the fire that destroyed the Cooinda Park Playground.

They faced an out of sessions hearing at the Bendigo Police Station on Sunday afternoon and have been remanded in custody.

They have both been charged with 12 counts of arson and seven counts of lighting a fire in open air during the fire danger period.

The fires included the gutting of the score room at Canterbury Oval, a fire at the rear of the Eaglehawk Rotary Book Shop, a fire which destroyed a pavilion at the Albert Roy Reserve and at the offices of Future Employment Opportunities.

There were also fires at the Eaglehawk Railway Station, St Liborius Catholic Primary School and numerous bin fires in the area.

They were not charged with a fire which gutted several rooms of a house on Napier Street, White Hills, in the early hours of Saturday morning. Police are continuing to investigate the house fire, which remains suspicious.

Several other fires in the area are also still being investigated by police.

The two men will appear at a filing hearing in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Detective Senior Constable Jason Smith said police were grateful for the assistance from the public in making the arrests.

Two men charged with 16 fires in Eaglehawk have also been charged with the fire that destroyed Cooinda Park Playground.

Two men charged with 16 fires in Eaglehawk have also been charged with the fire that destroyed Cooinda Park Playground.

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