Man arrested after arson attack

A NEW Brighton man who allegedly used a spray can to try to set a Byron Bay nightclub on fire has painted himself into a tight corner.

The man was arrested after police found an exploded can of fluorescent green paint at the scene of a suspicious fire at Liquid nightclub on Saturday morning – and were waiting when he wandered into Byron Bay Hospital seeking treatment for minor burns and covered in fluorescent green paint.

He was kept in hospital under guard overnight and appeared in Lismore Local Court yesterday, where he was refused bail.

The man, 31, has been charged with destroying or damaging property with intent to endanger life, and destroying or damaging property.

It is believed the fire began after a man was refused entry to Liquid nightclub shortly after 2am on Saturday.

Police allege he went behind the club, in the Plaza in Jonson Street, gained entry to a roof cavity and tried to light a fire.

Staff heard noises at the back of the club at 2.30am and when a security guard investigated he discovered the roof of the building was alight.

Clubbers were evacuated and staff used a fire hose to put out the blaze.

The fire was above the nightclub’s office. No sign of damage was visible at noon on Saturday but the rear of the premises smelled strongly of smoke.

A person who was at the club until after 2am said the crowd was a small one by that time of the night and ‘very happy’.

“Everyone was in a great mood, enjoying dancing to Charlotte Marshall and her band.

“I heard later that someone had been refused entry, but there was no hubbub.

“Even the bouncers were really happy.”

Hearing about the fire was ‘totally unexpected’, she said.

Liquid opened in mid 2008, claiming it would provide ‘a great alternative to the other late-night options in Byron Bay’ and be appreciated by ‘those who love to dance’.

But the incident highlights a wider issue of curfews, or ‘lock-outs’. Warren Simmons pointed to the razor wire trailing along fence tops behind Cheeky Monkeys nightclub as an example of extreme measures being taken by drinkers desperate to get into such a venue after lockout.

He supported the move by Byron Mayor Jan Barham and police to enforce a 1am curfew at all licensed premises.

The man is due to appear in Lismore Local Court today.

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