Man at centre of Hill Street siege pleads guilty to fire, threatening police

GUILTY PLEA: A man who threatened police with a sword, a claw hammer and a plastic pistol after he set fire to a house in Hill Street pleaded guilty to the crime after an attempt to have the charges dismissed.

GUILTY PLEA: A man who threatened police with a sword, a claw hammer and a plastic pistol after he set fire to a house in Hill Street pleaded guilty to the crime after an attempt to have the charges dismissed.

A MAN who threatened police with a sword, a claw hammer and a plastic pistol after he set fire to a house in Hill Street pleaded guilty to the crime after an attempt to have the charges dismissed. 

The house, opposite Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School, had to be demolished after Andrew John Cleasby Henderson set it on fire in the early hours of October 16.

Police facts said the 36-year-old man appeared to be delusional during the four-hour siege.

Henderson attempted to have the charges dismissed on the grounds he was not mentally culpable, on account of his bipolar disorder, but Orange Local Court magistrate Terry Lucas did not grant the application in court last week. 

He told Henderson he was lucky police did not shoot him after Henderson pointed the pistol at an officer. 

“I commend police ... exercising discretion and not discharging a firearm,” Mr Lucas said. 

After two days of reports from the school and neighbours about Henderson’s erratic behaviour, a man driving along Hill Street at 1.45am on October 16 nearly ran Henderson over with his car because Henderson was sitting in the middle of the road holding a sword.

The man stopped and saw smoke coming from 97 Hill Street at which point Henderson yelled at the man, “I’ve got a gun and I’m not afraid to use it.” 

Police arrived and Henderson barricaded himself inside the house where he lived along with others in a separate area of the home. 

He escaped through the blaze and disappeared. 

He was found in the backyard by a neighbour at 6.45am, but only one officer remained at the scene at that time. 

Henderson pointed the pistol at the officer, but eventually put it down. 

Henderson entered the guilty plea in court and will be sentenced at a later date. 

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