Arson charge: Man fronts court over fire at Bathurst church

DETECTIVES have charged a man with deliberately setting fire to the historic St Barnabas’ Church.

The church was gutted in the early hours of February 23.

Last month police charged 34-year-old Patrick Johns of Aroo Street, South Bathurst with aggravated break and enter at the church.

But yesterday detectives upgraded the charges to include damaging property by fire.

Johns was charged by police on Wednesday after being arrested for an unrelated aggravated break and enter.

Johns, who was already on bail in relation to the St Barnabas’ break and enter, was refused bail after being re-arrested by police on Wednesday.

He appeared before Bathurst Local Court yesterday where he was refused bail on the latest break, enter and steal.

Chifley local area command crime manager Inspector Luke Rankin said yesterday Johns was arrested by police after they executed a search warrant on a Kelso property late on Wednesday afternoon.

Inspector Rankin said police would allege a quantity of silverware, believed to be the proceeds from the commissioning of the break and enter into St Barnabas’, was seized by police.

The alleged find marked a significant development in the investigation, which Inspector Rankin said was ongoing, adding more arrests were expected to be made.

Johns’ solicitor Tim Cain made no application for bail in relation to the latest break and enter and arson charge.

He did, however, say he had significant discussions with the defendant and had “real concerns” with the state of his mental health.

“I’ve had difficulty getting coherent instructions,” he said.

Mr Cain said his submission was his client would need to be assessed.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Brett Donaghy asked the registrar to relist all charges against Johns on Monday, April 14, so all issues could be addressed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The registrar formally refused bail, adjourned the matter, updated the extra charge and relisted all matters against Johns for mention on Monday.

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