Fraser Herewini, 38, ' />
A man accused of starting 15 fires in 14 hours was "in the wrong place at the right time", his lawyer told a jury yesterday.
Fraser Herewini, 38, is charged with six counts of arson and nine counts of damaging property on the night of July 15, 2003, and the early hours of the following day.
The Crown claimed the fires were the culmination of a very bad day that started with Herewini getting up in a foul mood and later ramming a woman's car when he became annoyed at her for giving him the finger.
He was arrested and left the Auckland Central Police station at 8.20pm on July 15.
The Crown said his first target was a nearby car, followed by a sofa at the Auckland University of Technology, a fire at Old Government House, and rubbish fires in skip bins, post boxes and outside buildings.
The biggest fire was a blaze which gutted the Guardian Trust Building, causing $2 million damage to the Queen St property.
Defence lawyer Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki said the Crown case relied heavily on circumstantial evidence. "Just because the accused was in town on the night of these fires does not mean he set them."
Mr Barron-Afeaki said the suicide of a woman in Aotea Square on the same night as the arsons was relevant to the case and it was possible she lit two of the 15 fires.
He also pointed to evidence of a person contacting the fire service to report two men starting the post box fire.
Mr Barron-Afeaki said Herewini stayed in the city overnight because he had no money after being released from the police station.
He spent the evening on his own, apart from a late night conversation with a stranger who gave him a cigarette and $10.
The exchange was caught on CCTV cameras, along with other images the Crown alleged showed Herewini starting a fire in Emily Place, near Fort Street.
Herewini denied he was the person shown in security footage at Emily Place. He denied lighting any fires during eight hours of police interviews.