Hill Street fire accused deemed fit to appear in court despite bipolar disorder

A MAN with bipolar disorder who allegedly set  fire to units in Hill Street was deemed mentally fit to be dealt with according to the law. 

Orange Local Court magistrate, Terry Lucas, said the man was lucky he was not shot and killed by police attending the scene. 

Andrew John Cleasby Henderson chose not to take his medication and chose to smoke cannabis around the time of the fire and should therefore be held responsible for his actions, police prosecutor Sergeant Andy Bobin said in Orange Local Court last week. 

Henderson allegedly set his own unit on fire about 1.30am on October 16, 2013. The fire damaged two units and caused extensive damage to his neighbour’s posessions, including fridges, couches and clothing. 

“These offences are very serious ... there are a lot of people in the community, even magistrates, who have bipolar disorder,” Sergeant Bobin said. 

“These matters should be dealt with according to law.”

Henderson’s solicitor Rebecca McIlveen argued Henderson was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the alleged offence and because of his condition he should not have to answer to a court of law. 

He appeared in court on Thursday charged with maliciously destroying property by fire and using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention and to prevent a police investigation. 

Mr Lucas said he could not dismiss the charges and the matters were serious.

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

Henderson will reappear in court later this month. He did not enter a plea.