Owner cleared of shop arson

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 16 Maret 2013 | 19.55

A HOBART businessman yesterday walked free from court after being found not guilty of arson.

Ian Robert Cooksey, 42, of Lauderdale, was acquitted by a Supreme Court jury after it deliberated for almost eight hours.

The case centred on a fire at Mr Cooksey's Aqua Scuba Dive shop in Elizabeth St on April 2, 2011.

Firefighters took more than an hour to control the blaze and the building was extensively damaged.

The Crown alleged Mr Cooksey's business was not doing well, the fire was deliberately lit and he was in the building just before it started.

Defence lawyer David Barclay said the jury needed to look carefully at the evidence for a possible alternative explanation.

He said the keys to the case lay in the timing of the fire, the evidence of where the fire started and the true state of Mr Cooksey's finances.

The jury retired to consider its verdict on Thursday afternoon but by 7pm had not reached a decision.

Yesterday morning it sought clarification on three issues and asked to review video footage from part of the trial.

It returned a not-guilty verdict shortly after lunch.

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