Man on murder charge ‘broke window, poured petrol inside’

 

A 26-year-old man has faced court charged with the murder of a south coast father in a house fire on Friday night. The man's son escaped from the fire unharmed.

Police will allege in court that Harley Thompson smashed a window of a south coast house, before pouring petrol inside and setting it alight.

Cameron Johnston, 49, was killed in a blaze at the house on Leonard St, Bombaderry, near Nowra, but his 21-year-old son escaped the blazing house.

Thompson's case was briefly mentioned at Wollongong Local Court today. He did not apply for bail and he will reappear before Nowra Local Court tomorrow.

Police take a man away for questioning. Picture: David Swift
Police take a man away for questioning. Picture: David Swift

 

A man was led away in handcuffs. Picture: David Swift
A man was led away in handcuffs. Picture: David Swift

Detectives arrested Thompson on Saturday a few doors down from the crime scene.

With a hoodie covering his face and his hands in cuffs, he was marched out of a home on Leonard St.

Police surrounded the man in the backyard of the home after turning up at the house with a search warrant about an hour earlier.

The was taken to Nowra Police Station for questioning and later charged with murder and three counts of destroy or damage property.

Neighbours reported hearing heard arguing and yelling at the victim's home before it was engulfed in flames just after 10.30pm on Friday.

Mr Johnston was pulled from the home and despite CPR attempts, he died at the scene.

His 21-year-old son managed to escape the burning house uninjured.

"I walked out the front to see flames coming from the house about three houses up and explosions on and off," neighbour Shaylee Lye said.

"My partner did say he heard some screaming and arguments going on but it is quite common for the street, it's nothing out of the ordinary."

Fire investigators at the scene of the fatal house fire. Picture: David Swift
Fire investigators at the scene of the fatal house fire. Picture: David Swift

 

The man was placed into a police vehicle and taken away for questioning. Picture: David Swift
The man was placed into a police vehicle and taken away for questioning. Picture: David Swift

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said he heard shouting before the fire started.

Nowra police Detective Inspector Scott Nelson confirmed police believe the fire was deliberately lit.

"There is a bit of information we are sifting through at the moment and we are speaking to people," he said this morning.

"We are trying to put all those pieces together leading up to the fire and obviously the time shortly after.

"The information we have at this stage, we strongly believe this fire has been deliberately lit."

Police conduct a search following the fatal house fire. Picture: David Swift
Police conduct a search following the fatal house fire. Picture: David Swift

At 11.30pm, detectives, including one carrying a battering ram, turned up at a home close to Mr Johnston's property.

The officers were heard saying they had a search warrant and to open the door.

A woman answered and yelled "what the f**k are you looking at" before officers went inside.

It wasn't until an hour later, the young man was arrested in the backyard.

Officers from south coast Police District attended and found the home well alight.

Fire and Rescue NSW attended and extinguished the blaze, which had destroyed the home and a nearby vehicle.

Detectives, assisted by the State Crime Command's Homicide Squad, are investigating the circumstances surrounding the man's death.

Originally published as Man on murder charge 'broke window, poured petrol inside': police


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