A Maungatapu woman is on trial defending an allegation that she tried to burn down her home.

Lorraine Mary Lawson, 52, whose jury trial began in Tauranga District Court yesterday, has denied one count of arson.

At the start of the trial, Crown prosecutor Nathan Batts told the jury that Lawson was accused of starting two fires inside her Te Hono St property on December 18, 2015.

When the fire service attended they found the bed in the master bedroom upstairs well alight, and there was another fire in the corner of the dining room downstairs, he said.


Mr Batts said a fire investigator confirmed a mixture of items set alight had caused the dining room fire.

Lawson, who had lived at the property for 4-5 years, had fallen on hard times and by mid-2015 the power had been disconnected, he said.

She struggled to do all the usual household duties and had started asking neighbours to fill her thermos flask with hot water.

Mr Batts said not unexpectedly members of her family did not want to live at the house.

A neighbour once saw Lawson attacking a power box with a hammer.

During the week before the fires her concerned brother made several unsuccessful attempts to contact her, that included on the evening of December 17, he said.

When he visited he saw his sister's car in the driveway but no one was home, or Lawson was not answering the door, Mr Batts said.

Mr Batts said when the fire service arrived to extinguish the fire, no one was home and they had to break a glass pane in a locked door to gain entry.

Earlier, neighbours had seen Lawson's car parked in the driveway with the boot open but no signs she was home.

Two days later police located Lawson sitting in her car in Welcome Bay which contained numerous household items, he said

Lawson had told the police officer in charge she lived at the Te Hono St address,

The jury would hear evidence from 10 prosecution witnesses during the trial, including some of Lawson's neighbours and a fire investigation officer.

Lawson's lawyer Nicholas Dutch chose not to make an opening statement to the jury.

The trial was expected to take 3-4 days.