Man and woman charged with arson over fire near Nelson yesterday keep identities secret

A man and woman accused of deliberately lighting a scrub fire near Nelson have appeared in Nelson District Court today.

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The man’s also accused of starting a blaze the forced homes to be evacuated in Moutere last week. Source: 1 NEWS

The pair are charged over a suspicious fire which was started on Wednesday afternoon in Pigeon Valley near Wakefield in Tasman.

Nelson Police said they have good reason to believe the pair intentionally set fire to a roadside covered in scrub, owned by Tasman Pine Forests, knowing that danger to life was likely to ensue.

The man is also facing a second charge of arson over a fire in Upper Moutere last Wednesday, which took hold of a forestry block and forced a number of families to flee their homes. 

The charges each carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

The man’s lawyer Tagan Lyall fought to keep his name suppressed, handing over a number of screen shots taken from a local Nelson Facebook page to the judge, which she said showed threats being made to both people.

Judge David Christopher Ruth remarked that "given the danger to life" by the fires "I think that’s hardly surprising".

The Judge denied the man name suppression and ordered he remove a piece of cardboard hiding his face when he stood in the dock.

However, the man’s name cannot be published, as his lawyer has appealed the decision.

The woman was granted name suppression until her next court appearance.