Two men have been found guilty on two charges of arson resulting from a late-night series of rubbish fires in Napier's CBD eight months ago.
But a jury, deliberating for less than an hour yesterday, also found accused Napier men Daniel Joshua Cheatley, 26, and Irimana Bell, 23, not guilty of two other charges resulting from the spree lasting less than an hour on the night of Queen's Birthday, June 1, last year.
Appearing before Judge Geoff Rea and a jury of seven men and five women in Napier District Court, they denied the charges when their trial started in Napier District Court on Tuesday. Fires started in rubbish behind backpackers' lodge Archies Bunker, Bloodline Tattoo, the Brazen Head bar, and the County Hotel, accessed by service lanes in the area of Hastings, Herschell and Browning streets.
The fires were extinguished before serious damage could be caused, although exterior pipes were damaged in one fire and a patio umbrella in another.
Police examined CCTV footage from street cameras and businesses throughout the area and recorded the movements of the pair, one scootering around the streets and the other walking. Neither gave evidence in the trial, but recordings of police interviews were played to the jury.
Bell's lawyer, Leo Lafferty, argued the images were of people near the scenes, and that Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker had been unable to place Bell near two of the fires, nor, he argued, had the Crown been able to eliminate a third man in the images as a suspect.
Alan Cressey and Darren Foster appeared for Cheatley.