Aberfeldy case wait

A verdict on an outstanding charge against the man accused of causing the Aberfeldy bushfire will not be delivered until the end of January, after a summary hearing was adjourned last week.

Grahame Ernest Code, who has been accused of causing the 85,000 hectare blaze on 17 January after burning off on his property the morning the fire started, intends to plead guilty to lighting a fire in an open area without written authority in a fire protected area during a prohibited period.

However, he has contested a charge of leaving a fire that was lit to his knowledge by his agent, without previously taking all reasonable precaution to prevent it spreading.

After the prosecution and defence made their closing submissions in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court on Thursday, Magistrate Peter Mellas adjourned the handing down of his finding until late next month with a nominal date set for 31 January. Mr Mellas needs to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the Alberfeldy fire was caused by the burn off to find Code guilty, however after reviewing evidence submitted over the hearing, he noted "a gap in time" on the morning of the fire where "no one really knows what happened" at the property.

Code was deemed at a low flight-risk, and was discharged on bail.

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