A young woman has been charged with arson and manslaughter after an Auckland man was believed to have accidentally set himself alight nearly three years ago.

Just before 6am on December 9, 2017, Stephen Rhys Ewart died by what police described as "accidentally setting himself alight" at a property in Mt Roskill.

Police have said they believe the 58-year-old was intending to set fire to the Rustic Ave flat, but was not acting alone.

Now a woman has been charged with manslaughter and arson.


She appeared this morning in the High Court at Auckland for the first time, and after earlier pleading not guilty to arson, also denied the manslaughter allegation.

Justice Sally Fitzgerald granted an application by her lawyer, Sam Wimsett, to suppress his client's name and remanded her on bail until the case will be called in court again later this year.

A three-week trial was also set for next July.

Nearly a year after Ewart's death police released details of the investigation on the television show Police Ten 7 in the hope of gaining public assistance.

Detective Senior Sergeant Glenn Baldwin said in October 2018 that police understood Ewart had taken "a large number of plastic milk bottle containers and petrol" to the flat.

"We know he did not drive and would have required help from someone with a vehicle to transport the milk bottles and the petrol as there were very limited buses or trains running between these hours," police said.

Baldwin said this type of behaviour was out of character for Ewart, who was described as "reasonably reclusive".

"We believe others [are] involved and we seek to better understand why he was at the address and trying to set fire to it."

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